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Phuket Sports: Man Utd get Real in last 16 of Champions League

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Sports: Man Utd get Real in last 16 of Champions League | Thaiger
Ronaldo returns to Man United in Champions League
Reuters / Phuket Gazette
PHUKET: Cristiano Ronaldo will return with nine-time winners Real Madrid to Manchester United, where he developed into one of the world’s greatest forwards, and Lionel Messi’s Barcelona take on AC Milan in the Champions League last 16.

Bayern Munich, last season’s beaten finalists, play Arsenal and Juventus take on surprise qualifiers Celtic. Big-spending Paris St Germain face Valencia.

But the fate of the two Spanish giants in Thursday’s draw at UEFA headquarters attracted the most interest as both were pitted against clubs with decades of European experience.

Real, the Spanish champions, have been disappointing in La Liga this season and they finished second in their Champions League group behind Borussia Dortmund.

But Ronaldo, a United player from 2003 to 2009, will be desperate for Real to rise to the occasion against the club at which he won the European Cup in 2008.

Real manager Jose Mourinho, once of Chelsea, will also come up against his old rival Alex Ferguson.

“I’m sure it’s going to be a special game for him (Ronaldo),” said Emilio Butragueno, Real Madrid’s director of institutional relations. “I think the fans will be very, very happy with this very attractive, thrilling tie.

“It will be a great experience for everybody. I would have liked to have played against United later in the competition but they won’t be pleased either.”

Manchester United, three-times European champions, have played Real eight times and won only twice. Real, who will host United in the first leg on February 13, last won the European Cup in 2002.

Barcelona are now 2-1 favourites to win the Champions League although they could hardly have picked a club with more experience of success in Europe in seven-times winners AC Milan when the competition resumes in mid-February.

World player of the year Messi has scored 90 goals in 2012 and has fired Barcelona to a nine-point lead in La Liga while Milan are 14 points adrift of Juventus in Serie A and finished second behind Malaga in their group.

Barcelona vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu told Spanish broadcaster Canal Plus: “Milan are one of Europe’s greats and a club that commands a huge amount of respect.

“They are not going well in their league right now but they have some excellent players. They are not currently at their best but football changes from one day to the next.”

Juventus, who last won the European Cup in 1996, finished top of their group and will not be disappointed to have drawn Celtic who pulled off a major shock by beating Barcelona this season.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon believes Scottish lightning could strike twice.

“Over two games anything is possible,” he said. “It’s a beauty against one of the traditional European teams.

“In terms of quality it’s going to be very, very tough.”

Bayern confident
Bayern Munich, beaten by Chelsea in last season’s final, have a nine-point lead in the Bundesliga and were content to have drawn Arsenal who have struggled this season for any consistency.

“We can be satisfied with the draw, but we mustn’t under-estimate them,” said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

“It’s important we try to come away from London with a good result, score a goal there and lay down a marker. We can win it, and we start as favourites.”

Chelsea failed to qualify for the last 16 from the group won by Juventus.

Paris Saint-Germain have invested heavily in players over the past 12 months and now lead Ligue 1 on goal difference. Valencia are mid-table in Spain and in some disarray after losing to Rayo Vallecano at home at the weekend.

PSG sports director Leonardo said current form would have little importance in February.

“In the Champions League, it always depends on the moment you play the game, the run of form,” he said.

“We are going to have a difficult encounter with Valencia who are an experienced side,” he said.

Valencia director Fernando Giner told Canal Plus: “If we have got this far it’s because we are among the 16 best teams in Europe but PSG are a tough opponent.

“We have to be satisfied to be here and it’s a way of coming together at a difficult moment to achieve the result we all want. During these difficult times the Champions League is tremendously exciting for us.”

In the other ties, Galatasaray will play Schalke 04, Shakhtar Donetsk take on Dortmund and Porto face Malaga.

Dortmund, Bundesliga champions and winners of a tough group including Real, Ajax and Manchester City, were wary of their Ukrainian opponents.

“They are not necessarily the team we would have wanted,” said Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke. “It’s a very difficult tie but we showed in the group stage that we can beat strong opponents.”

Schalke were happy to draw Turkey’s Galatasaray.

“There are no easy opponents at this stage of the competition but to be frank I think we have a good chance of reaching the quarter-finals if we play to our potential,” said team captain Benedikt Hoewedes.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Transport

Footbridges stop luxury yacht travelling from Phuket to Samui

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Footbridges stop luxury yacht travelling from Phuket to Samui | Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand's version of the Suez Canal blockage.

Footbridges in Phuket stood in the way of a luxury yacht travelling from its home in Phuket to Koh Samui when the boat was too tall to pass. Police received a call around 8 pm last night from the truck driver after his trailer carrying the yacht had trouble getting under one of several bridges for walkers to pass over the highway. The boat was travelling down Thepkrasattri Road, where it was stopped by the bridge near Baan Tha Reua School. The boat also had trouble at the pedestrian bridge at the Provincial Electricity Authority Thalang Branch and the bridge at Baan Lipon School in Srisoonthorn.

All the bridges were supposed to have a 5-metre clearance, though one observer speculated that all the repaving of the road over the years may have raised the road and lowered the clearance. Traffic police responded to the first bridge incident by sending officers to direct traffic and make sure bikes and cars didn’t pass and impeded progress on freeing the boat. The second incident about 30 minutes later was resolved by letting air out of the truck’s tires to lower it just enough to pass under the bridge. The third snag prompted the driver to go in person to the Thalang Police station to request help yet again.

This time police were less amused and suggested the truck driver try to resolve the issue himself and call back to the police only if he was unable to free the luxury yacht. A traffic police officer went to follow up with the stranded boat at the end of his shift and found the driver had given up and decided to return the yacht to its Phuket origin at Boat Lagoon Marina in Koh Kaew. The boat, now damaged from the bridge bumps, wasn’t going to make it to Surat Thani to be sailed to Koh Samui on this journey. The boat radar had broken off on one of the bridges. No word on any major damage to the pedestrian bridges.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge

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Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge | Thaiger
PHOTO: Hotels and other tourism business are hoping the July 1st reopening goal can still be achieved.

A hotel information blog is claiming that, despite growing Covid-19 numbers, Phuket should stick to its schedule in reopening to travellers without quarantine in July. That’s only 2 and a half months away.

In an interview with the Director of Travel and Tourism Consulting at GlobalData, they stressed that while it is crucial to rein in the spread of Covid-19 and the B117 strain now menacing Thailand, the risk must not overshadow the need to push forward with vaccinations and the march towards eliminating the quarantine by July in order to save the tourism industry and all those dependent on it.

“The Phuket pilot program is essential in creating a path towards economic recovery for Thailand, a country heavily dependent on tourism. More than 17% of Thailand’s gross domestic product is attributed to tourism and the Covid-19 pandemic has lead to the worst economic free-fall in over 20 years”

The blog acknowledges the inherent risk and possible appearance of foolishness to prioritise the plans to reopen and carry on with the same rollout schedule. But they urge Thai authorities to consider that July 1 is still 2 and a half months away, leaving ample time to recover and make progress towards the approaching Phuket reopening. A vital aspect of the reopening plan lies in vaccinating over 70% of Phuket’s provincial residents, a sizable task, but one that brings great benefit with or without the scheduled reopening.

“Pushing ahead to achieve this goal puts Phuket on track to welcome back tourists, perhaps in a “bio-bubble”, and restart the economy. The economy is desperate with household debt growing, pushing the government to enact emergency decrees to provide relief. These households need the return of tourism and the influx of cash international tourists will bring.”

The blog hopes that Thai authorities can balance the necessary Covid-19 safety measures in Phuket to protect the Thai population with the economic need to bring back tourism. They believe that with sufficient measures in place, vaccinated locals could welcome vaccinated international tourists back to Phuket reopening safely in July.

SOURCE: Hotel News Resource

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

UPDATE: Field hospitals being established in Covid hot zones around Thailand

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UPDATE: Field hospitals being established in Covid hot zones around Thailand | Thaiger

UPDATE: The field hospital in Bangkok’s Bang Bon district, west of the Chao Phraya river, had its first 10 Covid patients today. The director of the medical services office of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration says that the 10 patients into the makeshift hospital, located at the Chalerm Phra Kiat Stadium, will enable assessment of the performance by the medical team, before more patients arrive – Thai PBS World

ORIGINAL STORY: Despite the confident posture and Songkran going ahead, amid restrictions, there is a lot of background activity which suggest the authorities are getting ready for a surge of new infections at the end of the Songkran break, officially this Thursday (but in reality, next Sunday at the end of the weekend when most people who travelled home will return for a resumption of work).

The Thai lunar new year celebrations – Songkran – are the largest mass movement of Thais each year, a source for a huge leap in road deaths and accidents. And, this year, a potential super-spreader event.

Quietly, at least 3,000 extra beds have been prepared in 10 field hospitals around Bangkok. The government has also confirmed that additional field hospitals are being set up in other potential ‘hot zones’, including Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chonburi and Hua Hin. Some of them were set up last year, and since closed, and now being prepared for new positive infections.

One Thai person who had been in one of the field hospitals put together a check-list of things to take IF you end up as an invited ‘guest’ HERE.

The CCSA say they are looking for additional beds in hotels and previous state quarantine facilities (where repatriating Thais were housed for their free quarantine) to be used if needed.

This year’s Songkran had bad timing, coming just a week after a number of major clusters were identified around some of Bangkok’s popular nightlife areas in 3 key inner city districts. Even before Songkran these isolated clusters had already spread into the provinces. In the weekend before Songkran the government had already listed 37 provinces which had instigated some form of paperwork or restrictions for people who had been in any of the 3 Bangkok districts.

The government also leapt on the source of the new outbreaks – bars, clubs and entertainment venues – and promptly shut them down for at least 2 weeks. At this stage it looks likely that that ban will be extended beyond the 2 weeks and, depending on the extent of new infections following the Songkran holiday, additional restrictions will also be added.

Even today the Civil Aviation Authority published a number of new in-flight restrictions for passengers – another blow to the hard-hit domestic aviation sector.

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