Sports in brief - 2011-10-20

  • 2011-10-19

Estonia has drawn Ireland as their opponents in the playoff round of Euro 2012 qualifying. After finishing the group stage of qualifying second in Group C, Estonia earned a place in the playoff round alongside seven other teams. The draw was made in Krakow, Poland last Thursday, with Estonia set to host Ireland in the first leg on Nov. 11 at A. Le Coq Arena in Tallinn. The second leg will then take place in Ireland on Nov. 15, with the team boasting the best aggregate score moving on to the final 16 of the co-hosted tournament between Poland and Ukraine. The opportunity to play in a major football tournament for the first time has seen a wave of football fever sweep over the northernmost Baltic State, with tickets to the game already sold out – something that is indeed a rarity for a football game in Estonia. After tickets had been allocated to the Estonian supporters’ organizations, as well as a certain number being reserved for traveling fans, only 2,000 tickets in the 9,692 seat stadium were left remaining for the general public. When they went on sale on Monday morning, it took just 25 minutes for the tickets to be completely snapped up.

Riga will this season play host to the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) All-Star game on Jan. 21 with Dinamo Riga defenseman and captain Sandis Ozolins named to captain the Western team. The announcement was made on Oct. 12 during a break in Dinamo Riga’s match with Lev, a game in which the home team prevailed, 4-2. While 39-year-old Ozolins will be taking on captaining responsibilities for the Western team, Russian legend Sergei Federov will be responsible for his opponents, the Eastern team. In the build-up to the game a number of other activities will also take place in Riga with fans being provided the opportunity to test their skills in a number of different challenges. This will be the fourth All-Star game in the history of the KHL. Previous games have taken place on Moscow’s Red Square, in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, and St. Petersburg. Initially there had been doubts as to whether or not the All-Star game would go ahead, with many questioning if it was appropriate to have a celebratory event, given the recent tragedy that saw the entire Lokomotiv squad killed in a plane crash. However, KHL president Aleksandr Medvedev decided the event should go ahead, albeit with a more somber program.

Zalgiris Kaunas has been unable to win in one of the most important games of the European club season. Following the construction of the new arena in Kaunas, which was built to host the European Basketball Championship during the summer, Kaunas also won the rights to host the opening game of the 2011/2012 Euroleague season – Europe’s premier club basketball competition. But playing hosts to CSKA Moscow on Monday evening, Zalgiris were never in a position where they looked like winning the game, eventually losing 87-74. CSKA Moscow have been big winners from the National Basketball Association (NBA) lockout in North America, acquiring the services of forward Andrei Kirilenko until the NBA resumes. Kirilenko showed why he is one of the highest paid players in the NBA, grabbing a 17 point, 15 rebound double-double that was good enough to see him named man of the match. There were, however, some promising signs for Zalgiris, namely from Sonny Weems and DeJuan Collins, who would score 16 and 18 points, respectively. Weems is another player who is biding his time in Europe until the NBA resumes. Zalgiris is the only Baltic club that qualified to participate in the Euroleague this season.