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Phuket Gazette Sports: Champions League latest; Barc and Galatasaray win; Arsenal falling short – Graham

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Phuket Gazette Sports: Champions League latest; Barc and Galatasaray win; Arsenal falling short – Graham | The Thaiger
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Magical Messi lifts Barca to stunning comeback
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: A fired-up Lionel Messi answered his critics by inspiring Barcelona to a sensational Champions League comeback against AC Milan last night with two goals in a 4-0 home win to help them reach the quarter-finals.

A rampant Barca, all-but written off after a surprise 2-0 reverse at Milan’s San Siro stadium in last month’s last 16, first leg, came storming back at the seven-times European Cup winners to progress 4-2 on aggregate after a memorable night.

They looked to Messi to spark a fightback and the four-times World Player of the Year did not disappoint with a scintillating display backed up by midfield trio Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets and fullbacks Jordi Alba and Daniel Alves.

Barca were ahead at the Nou Camp in the fifth minute through Messi’s brilliant curling effort and the Argentina forward, who has suffered rare criticism in recent weeks, levelled the tie on aggregate five minutes before halftime with a low drive.

Barcelona ruthlessly dominated, with Milan struggling to get the ball out of their own half for long periods, and David Villa struck a third 10 minutes after the break before Jordi Alba netted a breakaway goal in the second minute of added time.

Before Alba’s effort finally killed the tie, Milan had pressed forward looking for the goal that could have sent them through and there was a palpable release of tension in the giant arena when the Spain fullback’s shot hit the back of the net before the celebrations began in earnest.

Barca’s win makes them the first team in the Champions League to ever overturn a two-goal first leg deficit without the benefit of an away goal while only four sides had successfully fought back from a deficit of more than one goal.

“We started really fired up, as you have seen,” Villa told Spanish television.

“The early goal helped us a lot, but it was something we looked for from the first minute,” added the Spain forward, who has struggled for form since returning from a broken leg sustained at the end of 2011.

“We believed we could do it from the first minute, in fact from the final whistle of the last game,” he said.

“We are delighted for the fans. We always believed we could do it. For them, and with them, we have done it.”

Galatasaray oust Schalke in pulsating five-goal clash
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Galatasaray, spearheaded by Didier Drogba, struck twice before halftime and survived a second-half barrage to oust Schalke 04 yesterday, denying Germany a full house in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Galvanised by a superb swerving strike by Hamit Altintop against his old club, the Turkish side dominated the first half, held on for grim life in the second and snatched the last 16 second leg 3-2 with a stoppage time goal on the break against bewildered opponents.

Their 4-3 aggregate win justified their decision to splash out on big-name signings Wesley Sneijder and Drogba in January while Schalke became the first German side to exit the Champions League proper this term.

With Borussia Dortmund already through and Bayern Munich set to clinch a last-eight place on Wednesday when they host Arsenal with a 3-1 lead in the bag, Germany’s three teams had been in imperious form, losing only one match between them before Tuesday.

“It’s incredibly disappointing for us,” said team captain Benedikt Hoewedes, whose team are fourth in the Bundesliga and face a battle to qualify for the Champions League next season.

Ivory Coast forward Drogba, who missed a penalty in a league defeat against Genclerbirligi on Friday, was hugely influential on his favourite Champions League stage after his short stint in Chinese football.

The 35-year-old triumphed in last season’s competition with Chelsea after scoring a late equaliser in the final against Bayern and netting the winning spot kick in the shootout.

He looks hungry for more success but Galatasaray’s progression to the quarters for the first time since 2001 seemed unlikely when Roman Neustaedter gave Schalke a 17th-minute lead completely against the run of play.

It was wiped out by Altintop’s effort in the 37th minute when he collected a free kick and scored with a 30-metre shot which swerved away from Timo Hildebrand and went in off the foot of the post.

Former Arsenal boss Graham says Wenger has lost his touch
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger has lost his touch in the transfer market and the standard of players at the club has fallen, the club’s former manager George Graham said yesterday.

“In the last few seasons, the standard has slipped because the players coming into the club, in my opinion, are inferior to the players that were there seven years ago,” Graham, who managed Arsenal from 1986 until leaving under a cloud in 1995 following a scandal over illegal payments, told TalksportRadio.

“His first spell at the club was phenomenal: three League Championships, four FA Cups, finishing in the top four for 15 years – that is a phenomenal record.

“But he has raised his own bar and he has to ask himself if he has fallen a little bit.”

Arsenal have sold some of their most influential players in the last two years including Cesc Fabregas, Robin Van Persie and Samir Nasri and are approaching an eighth season without winning a trophy – something that was unimaginable in the first half of Wenger’s reign.

After Graham left, Arsenal were managed by Bruce Rioch for a season before Wenger arrived in September 1996 and transformed the club.

Graham, who led Arsenal to the title in 1989 and 1991 and also won the FA Cup, League Cup and European Cup Winners Cup during his tenure, continued: “It’s all about players. If you are a great manager, it’s down to the players you put on the pitch.

“Arsenal have never been big spenders. When Wenger first came to the club, he was buying them at bargain prices and making them into world-class players.

“He has been brilliant with what he has achieved at the club – building a new stadium, building a new training ground.

“But the last few seasons it’s been slipping away gradually. The onus is now on finishing in the top four, whereas before the onus was on winning the Premier League.

“The first thing you have got to ask is who is bringing the players to the club? Is it Arsene or is it the scouting staff? Who has he got, not just in England, but all around the world?

“You’ve got to ask who is bringing in the players of the quality that was brought in during his first six or seven years at the club.

“That has been the problem. The quality coming in now is not of the quality it was when he first came.”

Arsenal are fifth in the Premier League and battling for a place in the Champions League for a 16th successive season.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Crime

2 shot dead at Phuket Bus Terminal Saturday night

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2 shot dead at Phuket Bus Terminal Saturday night | The Thaiger
PHoTO: Nashaplaneta.net

Police say 2 men were gunned down at the Phuket Bus Terminal by a colleague at the terminal along the stretch of Thepkasattri road heading into Phuket Town last night. The incident happened at about 10:15pm with the local police chief arriving along with medical staff from Vachira Hospital shortly after the incident.

60 year old Wian Iadchuthong, the alleged gunman, was waiting to surrender at the scene when police arrived. Police say Wian appeared to be drunk and told them he had a serious argument with the 2 men and decided to take their lives with the gun. Police say they found 50 year old Yod Sae Lee lying on the ground in front of a taxi service stand, badly wounded. He was given CPR before being rushed to Vachira Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

54 year old Prakob Chuthong was also found lying dead by the counter of a 24 hour car park service kiosk. Police say he had been shot 2 times, once in the left side of his head and once in his left rib cage, according to Bangkok Post.

Witnesses say before the shooting, Wian was quietly drinking alone. But after getting drunk, he walked to the counter of the car park service kiosk and allegedly fired 2 shots from a 9mm gun at point-blank range, killing Prakob instantly. Wian then ran towards Yod, who was sitting in front of the taxi service stand. Yod saw Wian coming at him with the gun and he ran away to 1 side of the terminal building, only to be intercepted by Wian who allegedly fired 5 shots. Yod was hit 1 time in the head, 2 times in the torso and 2 times in the legs. Yod was also rushed to Vachira Hospital where he later died.

An initial police investigation found that the 3 were close colleagues at the workplace, but often engaged in heated fights over motorcycle taxi and taxi services at the bus terminal.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Tourism

Phuket lifts mandatory quarantine restrictions for ‘high risk’ arrivals. But were they ever applied?

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Phuket lifts mandatory quarantine restrictions for ‘high risk’ arrivals. But were they ever applied? | The Thaiger

Culminating 2 weeks of mass confusion over the apparent mandatory self-quarantine for arrivals to Phuket from Bangkok and other high risk provinces, Phuket’s provincial communicable disease committee has agreed to lift the mandatory 14 day quarantine “to help boost the local economy hit by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

But for the vast majority of arrivals from Bangkok (DMK and BKK) to Phuket there wasn’t even any mention of quarantine. Over the past 2 weeks, since Phuket’s Governor released a 3 page announcement about new restrictions for the island, people have mostly been coming and going as usual. The only additional impediments were all arrivees having to download and fill in the Mor Chana app and registering with gophuget.com.

In 2 weeks not a single person has reported to The Thaiger that they had been forced to self-quarantine. Last night, when checking in at Suvarnabhumi airport for a Thai VietJet flight to Phuket, the person at the Check-In counter told the passenger (we’ll call them Mic to protect their identity) they would have to serve 14 days in state quarantine upon arrival in Phuket. Mic, surprised, asked for some sort of confirmation of this from airline management or information from the Phuket Provisional officials. None was forthcoming. Nothing more was said or communicated to the passengers.

When the plane landed in Phuket officials checked that passengers had completed the Mor Chana app and scanned their phones after they’d completed the gophuget.com registration. And that was it. No mention of quarantine.

The situation has been repeated by other Thaiger staff over the past 2 weeks as well, but without any mention of quarantine during the check-in or boarding procedures with various airlines. In all cases they flew from Suvarnabhumi or Don Mueang airports.

Phuket’s Governor Narong Woonciew says the decision to ease the Covid-19 restrictions for visitors followed calls from the business community seeking to lure visitors to Phuket. (The Thaiger wonders if any of these officials had actually travelled over the past 2 weeks)

Local businesses met with provincial authorities on Friday proposing an end to the mandatory quarantine period “for people travelling from certain high-risk areas” in the hope of “stimulating the tourism industry”. The proposal was less about stimulating and more about raising the industry from its current flatline.

But whatever mandatory quarantine they were asking to be lifted appears to be have been, at best, loosely applied anyway.

Phuket has has a triple hit. The first when the borders were closed in April and the international airport closed. The second was when December arrived, the start of the busy tourist high-season. The third was the new restrictions added 2 weeks ago in response to the 2nd wave of clusters that started on December 20, tripling the total number of Covid infections in the country in just over a month.

According to Bangkok Post, Sarayuth Mallum, president of the Phuket travel industry council, says… “strict disease control measures remain necessary to protect local people and tourists from contracting the virus”.

Somehow, the mandatory quarantine requirement instructions never reached the airport officials. But, for now anyway, the “restrictions” have been lifted anyway. What was you experience arriving in Phuket over the past week? Were you asked to conduct a mandatory 14 day self-quarantine?

In the meantime the struggling domestic airlines have been forced to massively cancel or reschedule flights. Over the past 2 days most airlines only had 1 or 2 flights to and from Phuket and Bangkok, down from the 4 – 10 daily flights some airlines were offering.

More about the Mor Chana App here…

More about the direct effects on the island of Phuket…

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Crime

Phuket national park officer fired over peeping Tom incident

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Phuket national park officer fired over peeping Tom incident | The Thaiger

A national park officer has been fired after being accused of spying on a woman in the public toilet on January 17 at Phuket’s Sirinath National Park. 28 year old Abdulrama Mahaderi, was accused by a woman named Sopita and her boyfriend Panupong Rungrueng of climbing a wall that separates the men’s and women’s sections of the toilet at Nai Yang beach in order to look at Sopita. Abdulrama allegedly also had his mobile phone in his hand.

Sirinath National Park Chief Pramote Kaewnam confirmed that an investigative committee had spoken to witnesses and determined that Abdulrama was guilty of “misbehaviour and improper actions.”

Pramote confirmed that Abdulrama’s employment contract was then terminated, effective last Wednesday, 3 days after the incident allegedly took place. On its Facebook page, the Sirinath National Park made a post about the incident.

“It has caused disgrace to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation and affected the image of the overall department.”

Sura Lertthaisong of Sakhu Police confirmed that Abdulrama would be facing charges and that he was currently investigating whether a charge of “bullying in public” under Section 397 of the Criminal Code would be appropriate.

Abdulrama had previously posted on the official Sirinath National Park Facebook page that his understanding was that no charges would be pursued by Sopita and Panupong.

“The tourists told me that they did not want to press charges. They just told me that they did not want me to do anything like this again.”

But after Panupong posted a photo of Abdulrama, detailing his alleged indiscretion on social media, others came forward with similar accusations.

“One group of women said that they were also spied on by this man on the toilet wall 2 months ago, but they did not report it and did not press charges – and the truth faded away as if nothing ever happened.”

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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