“And I am delighted he did get out there, even though he maybe himself didn’t feel 100 per cent, because that means in future I will know I can trust him as an England player and he is not going to be playing when he feels like it – he is going to be playing when he’s fit to play.” Sturridge admitted to carrying the injury into the Germany match, but he was adamant that he would play. The striker has since come out and said he would never turn down the opportunity to play for his country. Hodgson insists England went through all the correct procedures in the run-up to the game against Germany. He says Sturridge’s thigh problem was not severe enough to keep him out of the running for the game. “He had scans and there was nothing on the scan,” Hodgson said. “I believe the injury that kept him out at the weekend was nothing to do with the injury he was complaining about after playing for Liverpool. “Daniel Sturridge is a guy that has burst onto the scene. We think he will be an interesting player, but of course I don’t have that many months ahead to really sort that out.” Sturridge’s bad luck with injuries has continued since as he has been ruled out for up to eight weeks with ligament damage to his left ankle. Hodgson is not concerned, however. “They are better getting injured now to be honest,” Hodgson said with a smile. If he maintains his current form, Sturridge will form one half of Hodgson’s strike force at the World Cup. Wayne Rooney will be the other component in the partnership. Rooney is playing some of the best football of his career at the moment. That is good news for Hodgson in one respect, but inevitably, the Three Lions boss will be concerned about the prospect of England’s leading talisman breaking down before a major tournament yet again. Manchester United manager David Moyes says he has no plans to rest Rooney, and Hodgson accepts he is powerless to prevent the player playing all the way through to May. “There is nothing I can do about it,” he said. “If you said to me you can tailor what they do (during the season), I would be delighted but I can’t. I have just got to hope for the best.” The FA and Mars aim to offer one million ‘Just Play’ opportunities over the next four years – for more information on Just Play in your area, search ‘Just Play’ online or visit www.facebook.com/marsbar. Sturridge had to start the Merseyside derby on the bench on November 23 because Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers said the player was unfit following his appearance for England against Germany four days earlier. Rodgers said after the 3-3 draw: “Anyone who saw the game could tell he was not fit. Because he played 90 minutes, he couldn’t train because he has to recover.” Press Association Sturridge reported for England duty that week with a thigh injury and, even though he was left out of the team to face Chile, the striker played 90 minutes against the Germans. The weekend before the clash against Joachim Low’s side, Sturridge admitted he was carrying the injury but declared that he wanted to play at Wembley. Given that Hodgson has had such little time to have a look at Sturridge within the England fold because of previous injuries, he was desperate to start the player against Germany. The 66-year-old, who used to manage Liverpool, was therefore unrepentant over his actions, declaring that he had to field the player in order to test his desire to play for his country. The England manager said: “Dan has pulled out of a few matches with us for injury reasons. “The first game he played (against Ireland) he got injured. It was important for me to, if you like, test his resolve a little bit. “I suppose you could argue we did put his resolve a little bit to the test. “I might have been guilty of putting that resolve to the test, but I don’t apologise for it. England manager Roy Hodgson has no regrets over his decision to play Daniel Sturridge against Germany last month.
Published on January 16, 2017 at 9:01 pm CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Every time Syracuse teased that it could pull off an upset of North Carolina, the ninth-ranked team in the country found a window of opportunity. Most often in UNC’s (17-3, 5-1 Atlantic Coast) 85-68 win over Syracuse (11-8, 3-3), that window was in the Carolina blue-colored rectangle under the Tar Heels’ basket. The Orange defense withered down low once again, and SU soiled its chance for a marquee win. Here’s the best and worst of what happened Monday night in the Dean Smith Center.Big MomentWith Syracuse’s hopes of an upset collapsing quickly, John Gillon fed an alley-oop to Andrew White. The 6-foot-7 senior leapt high and quick, but couldn’t handle the quick pass. The ball spit out of his hands and into North Carolina’s. Justin Jackson took possession on the offensive end and was fouled with 3:36 to go, officially putting to bed any comeback aspirations for SU, which faced a 78-64 deficit at the time.Studs: Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah HicksNo two players were more responsible for UNC’s win than its big men. Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks tortured Syracuse in the paint, combining to shoot 15-of-23 and tally 35 points. SU’s frontcourt, largely Tyler Lydon, Tyler Roberson and White, was no match for the 6-foot-10 Meeks and the 6-foot-9 Hicks. As the Orange consistently crept closer to the Tar Heels’ lead, Hicks stalled Syracuse’s brief runs.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEarly in the first half, Theo Pinson found Meeks sandwiched between Roberson and Lydon. The UNC senior elevated between the two defenders and flushed down Pinson’s feed to make it a 20-14 lead for the hosts. Both Meeks and Hicks also lent a significant hand on the boards, helping North Carolina crush Syraucse, 44-24, in the rebounding column.Dud: Syracuse’s frontcourtBy at least one metric, North Carolina entered Monday night as the best offensive rebounding team in the country. Kenpom.com calculated UNC’s offensive rebounding rate at 42.3 entering the game, the highest of any team. The Tar Heels certainly looked the part against Syracuse, outrebounding SU 18-6 on the offensive glass. Combine that with a 46-20 advantage on points in the paint, and the game shaped up to be a nightmare for the Orange’s frontcourt.Roberson was Syracuse’s best — and at times, only — threat to level with North Carolina’s rebounding game. He led SU with eight rebounds. Otherwise, the Orange’s presence in the paint was thin. Meeks and Hicks were paramount in UNC’s assault on Syracuse, who scored six of North Carolina’s first nine points of the game in the paint to set an immediate precedent. UNC finished the first half shooting 60 percent in the paint.Highlight: Tyus Battle’s four minutes of heroicsUndoubtedly, the best stretch for Syracuse was at the start of the second half. The Orange went on a 12-0 run to cut a 15-point deficit to three in about three and a half minutes. Leading the way was Tyus Battle, who paired a couple steals with two buckets to stymie the Tar Heels while SU went on its run.Lowlight: Andrew White’s third turnoverWith SU valiantly trying to catch up in the second half, White’s third turnover significantly halted his team’s run. After Syracuse went on a 12-0 run at the start of the second half to cut the deficit to three with 16:27 remaining, Meeks picked the ball from White almost six minutes later. That began a possession that led to a pair of UNC free throws, putting UNC ahead by 12, and the game away for good. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+
StumbleUpon Share Steven Spartinos, co-founder and co-CEO of Kiron Interactive, spoke to SBC News about the technical challenges to producing virtual content, a UKGC statistic that helps to explain the virtual transition from retail to digital in the UK, the corresponding picture in emerging markets such as Africa and LatAm, and the key differences in regulation or content to consider for virtual games targeting these regions.SBC: What are the key technical challenges Kiron has faced when producing virtual content?SS: Our challenges are largely the same as those of other suppliers, in truth. As a supplier working in key regulated markets, one key challenge is ensuring our software meets the requirements imposed by the regulatory bodies in these markets. This is often a fairly tedious and time-consuming process subject to delays and red tape. As we internationalise as an industry, virtual content needs to consider the needs of each market and allow for customisation of products to meet local requirements and player preferences. Finally, delays caused by ever growing project pipelines at operators is another key challenge, requiring the need for flexibility in your project planning and the ability to change tack at short notice.SBC: Earlier this year, the UKGC reported a +3% decrease in the number of betting shops; is this more justification for the ongoing transition for virtuals from retail to digital? SS: I’m not sure it is justification – but I think it certainly helps to explain the transition. Suppliers have been adapting to the growth in mobile for a number of years now, as that’s how the tech-savvy millennial generation wants to consume their betting and gaming content. Virtual sports are no exception and further lend themselves to digital channels due to their round the clock availability and high frequency nature. As simple and entertaining sports betting games, they offer great crossover qualities, often used by operators as a good player acquisition tool. New instant win formats for virtual games is further growing their popularity with operators as a vertical in its own right.SBC: In this report, virtual sports came in third for revenues, behind only horseracing and football – what is the corresponding picture in emerging markets such as Africa and LatAm?SS: In many countries in Africa, virtual sports are a number one or number two product and a must have product for all operators. Younger punters associate with their realism in emulating real sports and their simplicity when placing bets. Customers are becoming more open to the fast-paced interaction of the products which, being real-time and high-frequency, and are often perceived to offer a more entertaining betting experience. A similar trend is emerging in LatAm but the market there is a lot more immature at this stage as sports betting is a relatively new phenomenon. Don’t forget, the provision of live content can be expensive for operators in these markets, so virtuals provide a cost-effective alternative. Kiron has developed bespoke solutions for these emerging markets to enable easier deployment of its games. A number of structural impediments such as poor internet connectivity and power interruptions can make the operating of our games in some of these markets quite challenging. Our newly developed proprietary bet management solution, BetMan Omni, is one such product offering innovative solutions in tackling these challengesSBC: What are the key differences in regulation, or even changes to make up of the content, that you need to consider for virtual games targeting these regions?SS: In general terms, it is no different to any other market, in that you need a product that is reliable and profitable. Operators also quite rightly expect to be offered a tailored solution that gives them genuine choice with which to engage as many customers as possible. Too many suppliers have entered these markets with a one size fits all policy and have failed. Our technology allows Kiron to localise its products to fit specific market requirements, so they are relevant to customers on the ground there. SBC: Finally, what new digital disciplines do you expect to emerge in the development of virtual games during 2019?SS: With their crossover nature, virtual games do have potential to appeal to both sports bettors and casino players, but it is important to ensure the format is relevant to either set of players. With this in mind, we expect a continuation of the evolution of new virtual game formats, such as in-play and instant win, to increase their popularity across these two separate verticals. With the emergence of new digital technologies, innovation will be key in ensuring suppliers deliver games that remain relevant and enticing to an ever-demanding online player base. Submit Share