England tour in 2022 with Lions v South Africa visit proposed for 2021


Sources with knowledge of the situation have told the Herald the inbound series is also a significant part of why Rugby Australia offered to host the British and Irish Lions’ tour of South Africa in July and August this year.

With South Africa ruled out as a venue due to COVID-19, Lions and SARU bosses are weighing up whether to play the series behind closed doors – or with limited crowds – in the UK, or to take up Australia’s offer of a series played in front of full stadiums.

Wrapped up: England’s Mike Brown is tackled at AAMI Park in 2016.

Wrapped up: England’s Mike Brown is tackled at AAMI Park in 2016.Credit:Scott Barbour

There is a push among some media and ex-players, however, for the series to be postponed until July 2022, where it could likely be played in South Africa. But if changes are made and the Lions tour played next year, England’s stars would be in South Africa and they would bring what is essentially a ‘B’ team to Australia.

That, in turn, would significantly devalue England’s tour of Australia, which could impact ticket sales and the potential audience for a three-Test series.

Rugby Australia, therefore, is highly motivated for the Lions series to be played in 2021. While he has a different reason, Jones is in firm agreement.

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England are believed to be the nation most in favour of taking the Lions tour to Australia and that’s partly due to Jones not wanting to lose his best players for an important tour that falls just 12 months out from the 2023 World Cup.

With France arriving in Australia in four months for a blockbuster series, England locked in for 2022, the World Cup in France in 2023, a Lions tour in 2025 and what RA hopes will be a home World Cup in 2027, recently departed chief executive Rob Clarke believes the game is in a strong position.

“The opportunity is there to work on a plan to happen and maximise and leverage a successful Lions tour in 2025 which is one of the largest single events that happens in the sporting calendar globally,” Clarke said.

“Then, fingers crossed, we win the bid for the 2027 World Cup. Two years after the Lions are here, we host the third largest sporting event in the sporting calendar, that’s the World Cup.

“The two tentpole events, and if you add in three Tests against England next year when they come and tour and a World Cup in France in 2023, there is an enormous amount to look forward to and that’s a lot of commercial leverage opportunities to set up a legacy for decades to come.

“I really am optimistic about the future. I think with partners like Stan and Nine, who are bringing such a fresh look and an energy and expertise to the game, there is no reason rugby cannot build itself back into that pinnacle position that it used to own and enjoy a couple of decades ago.”

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Victorian vows to use lotto win to visit grandson he’s never met


A grandad living in regional Victoria has vowed to use his million-dollar lotto win to travel and see his grandson who he’s never met due to COVID-19 restrictions.

His luck turned around on Wednesday when he discovered he held one of the two division one entries in Australia, taking home a prize of $1 million.

READ MORE: Mystery Canberra $11m lotto winner found

While the lucky winner will be unable to have a large celebration under current gathering restrictions, he said his one hope is to meet his grandson.

“When we can, I can’t wait to travel and meet my new grandson. I haven’t met him yet.

Target Lotto owner Carlo Addamo said it was his outlet’s third major win during the past five weeks.

While the lucky winner will be unable to have a large celebration under current gathering restrictions, he said his one hope is to meet his grandson.

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Omar Abdullah On Envoys’ J&K Visit


Omar Abdullah today took a dig at the visit of 24 foreign envoys to Kashmir.

Srinagar:

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah took a dig on Thursday at the visit of 24 foreign envoys to Kashmir, asking them to send real tourists from their countries to Jammu and Kashmir.

“Thank you for visiting Kashmir. Now please send some real tourists from your countries to visit J&K. #envoysvisitJK,” the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said in a tweet.

The envoys from European, Latin American and African countries arrived in Srinagar on Wednesday on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir for assessing the ground situation in the Union Territory following the scrapping of Article 370 of the Constitution in August, 2019.

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Senior Congress leader Saifuddin Soz described the visit of the envoys as a futile exercise on Wednesday.

Most of the prominent mainstream politicians from the Union Territory have maintained a silence on the visit of the ambassadors.

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Seven reasons why Tasmania’s Tamar Valley is better to visit than France’s Champagne


 Let’s face it, none of us are going wine tasting in France any time soon. But the world’s second best sparkling wine region (behind Champagne) is right under our noses… in northern Tasmania.

And get this; the Tamar Valley might be second best for sparkling wine quality, but it’s arguably better for a sparkling wine tasting holiday. Here’s seven reasons why Tasmania’s Tamar Valley wine region might be better to visit than Champagne…

The sparkling wine here is considered second only to Champagne

Because of its latitude and unique agricultural conditions, the Pipers River section of the Tamar Valley wine region (it’s in the north-east corner of the valley) is considered to produce the greatest sparkling wine on earth outside of Champagne. In the 1980s, winemakers from iconic champagne house, Louis Roederer, scoured the world looking for the best place to make sparkling wine and chose the Tamar Valley (to grow cool climate chardonnay and pinot noir, the two main grapes of the Champagne region). The rest is history, now wineries like Clover Hill Wines and Jansz Tasmania produce the country’s best sparkling wine – earning the region the moniker: Sparkling Tasmania.

It’s still blissfully free of tourists (and wine wankers)

<br />Located at Relbia, a fifteen minute drive south of Launceston in Northern Tasmania and just a short distance from the Launceston Airport. The estate includes a 61 hectare (150 acre) vineyard and newly completed state of the art winery, producing elegant wines from premium cool climate fruit.  Craig Tansley sparkling wine story for Traveller. One time use only. Tourism Tasmania/Alamy

Photo: Rob Burnett

Pre-Covid, France attracted 10 million wine tourists each year, including around a million to Champagne itself (over 250,000 tourists each year will walk down the region’s most Instagrammed street, the Avenue de Champagne in Epernay). There’s little room for spontaneity, most guests visit on pre-booked private tours, and must visit by appointment only. Tasmania only receives 625,000 tourists a year and just a tiny proportion visit the Tamar Valley. If there’s more than five cars parked at most Tamar Valley wineries, move on, no-one likes a crowd.

It’s right beside two of the world’s best golf courses

It’s 15 minutes drive from the Tamar Valley’s best sparkling wine estates to two of Australia’s best public golf courses, Barnbougle Dunes and Lost Farm, located on one site beside Bass Strait. In the early 2000s local farmer Richard Sattler decided to build a championship course on the sand dunes of his family farm. Within a few years, it became the world’s 11th best public course, and Australia’s best public course. Most courses in the world’s top 50 courses cost upwards of $400 in green fees, Barnbougle costs just over $100.

Most wineries are still family-owned and you’ll get to meet the owners

Very few champagne houses (in Champagne) are still family-owned, but most wineries in the Tamar Valley are. You won’t meet employees as you will in Champagne, you’ll meet owners. Stop in at Loira Vines to meet Adrian and Mirabai Carruthers, they went on a wine tasting tour three years ago and ended up buying a winery. Or meet Julie and Rohan Hirst at Cabbage Tree Hill Winery who came to buy a house in the area and ended up with a winery instead, though they had no winemaking experience. While you’re tasting, you’ll hear real-life stories you won’t hear in Champagne.

You don’t need to pre-book expensive wine tasting tours

An annual Tasmanian Sparkling Event will taking place in November. Craig Tansley sparkling wine story for Traveller. One time use only. Tourism Tasmania/Alamy

Photo: Andrew Wilson

Just turn up. You’ll find over 30 tasting rooms spread across a wine region split between two sides of the Tamar River. It runs from south of Launceston (Josef Chromy Wines) north to Bass Strait, 60 kilometres away. In Champagne most tasting rooms won’t allow walk-in wine tasters, you have to book a tasting – with the cheapest tasting around $A35. If you’d like to taste the best known champagnes, like Charles Heissieck, you’ll have to book a VIP-only tasting for hundreds of dollars. But it won’t cost a cent to taste the wines of the Tamar Valley. Also consider a wine tasting tour with Prestige Leisure Tours – then you won’t have to think about driving.

Its best champagne is drunk by royalty too

Tamar Valley’s sparkling wine pioneer, Andrew Pirie, has produced a sparkling wine at Pipers Brook Vineyard which has been drunk by Queen Elizabeth II… twice. And Tasmania’s own European princess, Mary (of Hobart), had bottles of local winery, Clover Hill’s legendary 2000 vintage served at her 2004 wedding to Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark.

Stay in Launceston for a fraction of Epernay or Reims​

Craig Tansley sparkling wine story for Traveller. One time use only. Tourism Tasmania/Alamy

Photo: Rob Burnett

Champagne’s two main population centres, Epernay and Reims, cater for people with champagne budgets. Swanky hotels like Les Crayeres or Royal Champagne cost upwards of $750 per night. Launceston, meanwhile, has become Tasmania’s underground food and hotel hot-spot, offering luxury options at a fraction of the price. Long overlooked by those preferring Hobart, it’s now home to some of Australia’s best new historic hotels (eat your heart out France, we have history too!), like Peppers Silo Hotel, rooms built within 35-metre-high barrels of four former grain silos, or Stillwater Seven, rooms built within an 1830s flour mill. And there’s gourmet restaurants, art galleries, weekly farmers’ markets and its architecture is a quaint mix of Victorian and Elizabethan styles reflecting its 19th Century origins.

See also: Ten reasons why this is the perfect Queensland island resort

See also: Before Hollywood and Hemsworth, Byron was just a backwater. And I liked it



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An incredible visit to the Northern Territory


WOW. I’ve recently returned from a fantastic trip, and my first (and long overdue) visit to Australia’s Northern Territory. It was a northbound camping group tour, consisting of two parts.





We started in the Red Centre of Central Australia with visits to Alice Springs, Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), the truly awesome Uluru (Ayres Rock), Watarrka National Park and Tjorita (West MacDonnell Ranges).

We then headed to the Top End to visit Darwin, Litchfield National Park, Mary River, the incredible Kakadu National Park and Katherine.

To pick out one single highlight from this trip is a difficult task.

The ancient landscape of outback Australia is beautiful and untouched, almost like it’s another world. It was fascinating to learn more about Aboriginal people and their culture, and the symbiotic relationship they have with the land.

As a lover of travel and one determined to take at least one decent trip every year, I have been to some breathtaking places. This journey to see more of my home country was a special one, and an experience that will stay with me for some time.

I have a gazillion photos to go through so over the next little while I’ll share posts with you on each of the places I visited. Until then I would love to hear about your experiences.

What would be your highlight in Australia’s Northern Territory?


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Rioting kids rounded up ahead of Gunner’s visit?


By ERWIN CHLANDA

Young people “running amok” outside the government’s 24/7 youth centre, corner Railway and Wills Terraces, reached a peak yesterday with rocks being thrown at a dog in a blind lady’s yard, a car being trampled on and a business “rocked”.

This is according to a Railway Terrace resident who spoke on the condition of not being named, as the town’s three non-Labor MLAs are banding together to stop the ongoing unrest, and are seeking a meeting with Chief Minister Michael Gunner.

“It is a nighty occurrence. People cannot sleep,” says the resident, with staff of the centre usually taking no action once children leave the premises where they have been “fed and hyped up with drinks”.

Centre staff usually do not call the police.

In an apparent initiative to “clean up” the area on occasion of Mr Gunner’s visit, police last night “rounded up” children into paddy wagons, the woman says. Tangentyere buses then arrived and took them to unknown places.

The Alice Springs News is seeking information from Tangentyere and the police.

Meanwhile the Members for Braitling, Joshua Burgoyne, Namatjira, Bill Yan (both CLP), and Independent for Araluen, Robyn Lambley, are calling on Mr Gunner “to sit down with Alice Springs victims of crime of who feel abandoned by this Labor Government.

“Alice Springs is a town under siege.

“Spend some time in our town. Talk to the residents and businesses who are being affected day in, day out by rampant crime” they urge Mr Gunner in a letter attached to a media release.

“We don’t need another carefully stage-managed media opportunity without any real action. Ditch the cameras and media spin and meet with the public.”

Ms Lambley says her co-operation with CLP politicians should not be seen as an indication she will re-join the party.

The three have written to Mr Gunner seeking a meeting wth him.

This photo is from a petition signed by nearly 5000 people calling for a class action against the government “for lack of action and results in addressing youth crime”.

UPDATE 12.20pm: 

The resident we are quoting has now agreed to have her name published. She is Leisal Mac Donald.

UPDATE 4pm

JUST A NORMAL AFTERNOON IN ALICE SPRINGS

It is about 3pm. Ms Mac Donald observes two boys walking north from MacDonald’s fast food restaurant along Railway Terrace, teasing several dogs in the front yards, making them “go troppo” and then throwing rocks at them.

The rocks are a danger to anyone nearby, including the blind lady, says Ms Mac Donald.

She calls the police – about two minutes’ drive away. The boys duck into the government’s 24/7 youth centre at the northern end of the street and proceed to play games.

Ms Mac Donald challenges them. They say the dogs were about to bite them and give her “a mouthful”.

A police car arrives, stops at the youth centre, the two officers do not get out, let alone confront the boys, turn into the service station across the road and disappear in direction of Stuart Highway.

The police job number Ms Mac Donald had been given is P 21024877. She had given the police the names of the children whose age she estimates at 12 years.

“They can now come back and do it all again,” she says.

UPDATE 5pm

A statement from Tangentyere Council, when asked to comment, says the organisation is “funded to operate after hours youth transport and support services by the NT and Federal Governments.

“Children are taken to their homes or, if this is not appropriate at the time, a safe place. These services operate to cover seven nights a week.”

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Taliban Visit Moscow, Voice Hope US Will Honor Peace Deal – The Diplomat


The Pulse | Security | South Asia

Sher Mohammed Abbas Stanikzai, who led the Taliban delegation to Moscow,  insisted that the Taliban have been abiding by the deal.

After a round of talks in Moscow, the Taliban said Friday they expect the United States to fulfill its pledge to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by May.

Sher Mohammed Abbas Stanikzai, who led the Taliban delegation that met with senior Russian diplomats during two days of talks, insisted that the movement has honored its end of the deal signed last year on Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office.

White House and U.S. State Department officials have said that Biden’s administration plans to take a new look at the peace agreement signed last February with Donald Trump’s White House.

The Pentagon said on Thursday that the Taliban’s refusal to meet commitments to reduce violence in Afghanistan is raising questions about whether all U.S. troops will be able to leave by May as required under the peace deal.

In remarks carried by Russian news agencies, Stanikzai insisted that the Taliban have been abiding by the deal — despite relentless attacks and continued high levels of Taliban violence against Afghan forces.

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“Ever since we signed the agreement with the American side, we haven’t been involved in any aggressive actions,” Stanikzai said. “We hope that the U.S. will continue to honor the agreement reached in Doha, it’s in its interests.”

The peace agreement called for the U.S. to reduce troop levels to 2,500, and then to remove all forces by May. Trump ordered U.S. troops levels in Afghanistan cut to 2,500 just days before he left office, presenting Biden with difficult decisions about how to retain leverage against the Taliban in support of peace talks. 

Stanikzai warned that if the U.S. reneges on the deal, the Taliban will continue their fight against the government in Kabul. The insurgents are now at their strongest since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion that toppled the Taliban regime for harboring al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and the Taliban control or hold sway over nearly half of Afghanistan

“We hope that the U.S. will leave,” Stanikzai said. “But if it doesn’t, we would have no other choice but to defend ourselves and continue our struggle.”

He strongly rejected allegations that Russia was secretly offering bounties to the Taliban for killing American soldiers as “an absolute lie.”

U.S. officials have said they were analyzing intelligence about the bounties offered by Russia. Moscow has rejected the claim.

Stanikzai said that the Taliban and Russia “share a common understanding of various issues related to the peace process in Afghanistan,” voicing hope that Moscow will help the settlement. In particular, he added the Taliban expect Russia to support the lifting of the U.N. sanctions on the Taliban leaders. 

Stanikzai also voiced hope that ongoing, stop-and-start peace talks between the Taliban and the Kabul government that began last year will produce results soon.

The peace talks, which are taking place in Qatar, resumed earlier this month but have been marred by the latest spike in violence, with both sides blaming each other.

Moscow, which fought a 10-year war in Afghanistan that ended with Soviet troops’ withdrawal in 1989, has made a diplomatic comeback as a power broker in Afghanistan, mediating between feuding factions as it jockeys with Washington for influence in the country. In 2019, it hosted talks between various Afghan factions.

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By Vladimir Isachenkov for the Associated Press in Moscow, Russia.

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Ukrainians cancel visit to Sri Lanka over PCR concerns – NewsIn.Asia


Colombo, January 22 (Daily Mirror) – Over 200 Ukrainian tourists who were expected to arrive in Sri Lanka on a charter flight on January 19 under the Government’s pilot project, backed out of visiting the country while a further 100 tourists who were expected to arrive today, have cancelled their plans. 

They have cancelled their plans following Sri Lanka’s health protocols which require every tourist to undergo three PCR tests if the stay is more than seven days, the Daily Mirror learns. 

The charter flight which was expected to arrive with at least 214 tourists from Ukraine on January 19, flew into the country empty to take back the returning tourists while today, another flight is expected to arrive, but the number of arrivals have been reduced from an estimated 240 to 100. 

Sri Lanka’s former ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga, who was part of the government’s pilot project told Daily Mirror that following the new health guidelines released for tourists on January 6 many tour operators in Ukraine and Russia had been reluctant to take fresh bookings simply because tourists were reluctant to undergo so many PCR tests during a short span. 

Weeratunga said that in addition to undergoing a PCR test in their respective countries within 96 hours before flying to Sri Lanka, upon arrival here, tourists were required to undergo another PCR test upon their check-in at their hotel, another test on their fifth to seventh day and another test during their 14th day. 

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China Says WHO Coronavirus Experts To Visit From Thursday


Ten World Health Organization scientists will visit China from Thursday to probe the origins of Covid-19, authorities said Monday, more than a year after the pandemic began and amid accusations Beijing has tried to thwart the investigation.

The long-awaited mission is of great political significance at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has devastated the world, caused almost two million deaths, and brought the global economy to a virtual standstill.

The WHO team “will conduct joint research cooperation on the origins of Covid-19 with Chinese scientists”, the National Health Commission said in a statement that provided no further details.

A last-minute delay to the mission earlier this month earned China a rare rebuke from the head of the WHO.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “very disappointed” China had not authorised the team’s entry — especially as two members were already en route.

Beijing sought to downplay the tension, however, with foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying calling it a “misunderstanding”.

The WHO experts will have to quarantine for two weeks on arrival, but are expected later to visit Wuhan — the city where the deadly virus was first detected in late 2019.





Residents line up to be tested for coronavirus in Beijing on January 11, 2021, after new cases emerged in the province which surrounds the capital
 AFP / GREG BAKER

The US and Australia have led international calls for an independent inquiry into the origins of the virus, putting China under significant pressure amid growing calls for accountability.

Beijing has faced international criticism over its lack of transparency during the initial outbreak, although domestically the government has praised its own handling of the outbreak and stifled any criticism.

Government officials have repeatedly said that tracing the origins of the pandemic was a “scientific matter”, and has even pushed theories it originated outside China.

Experts say solving the mystery of how it first jumped from animals to humans is crucial to preventing another pandemic, but China’s tight control of its scientific research leaves little hope of finding definitive conclusions.

There is little dispute that the virus emerged in late 2019 at a wet market in Wuhan where wildlife was sold as food, and the pathogen is believed to have originated in an undetermined bat species.

The quest to detect its origins has also been plagued by conspiracy theories — amplified by US President Donald Trump — that it leaked from a Wuhan virology lab.



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FA Cup to see Tottenham’s Gareth Bale and José Mourinho visit non-league Marine FC in ‘biggest mismatch in history’


A bar transformed into a makeshift changing room.

One tiny stand with fewer than 400 seats.

And just a brick wall separating the gardens of overlooking houses from the dugouts on the narrow touchline.

The home of Marine’s team of part-timers in the eighth division of English football will be a world away from the luxuries Tottenham’s millionaire players and manager José Mourinho are used to when they show up on Merseyside on Sunday (local time) for an FA Cup match.

“When I saw the draw come out,” Marine defender Josh Solomon-Davies said, “I did scream to myself.”

The north-west coastal town of Crosby will provide very humble surroundings for the biggest mismatch in the history of the FA Cup.

With 161 spots separating Tottenham from Marine in the English football pyramid, never before has the gulf been so great between teams paired in the 150 years of world football’s oldest cup competition.

Tottenham’s star forward Gareth Bale has requested to play in the FA Cup match against Marine.(Reuters: Molly Darlington)

While Tottenham is fourth in the Premier League and in the Champions League places, Marine is sixth in the Northern Premier League Division One North West.

“We are an eighth-tier team playing against World Cup winners (Hugo Lloris) and Golden Boot winners (Harry Kane),” Marine striker Niall Cummins said.

“You don’t get that anywhere else.”

While Tottenham’s players can earn hundreds of thousands of pounds a week, there is a maximum weekly pay of 300 pounds (about $520) for Marine’s squad which featuring semi-professionals who work by day in healthcare, garbage collection, car factories, and schools, like Cummins.

“Every kid has given me some stick,” the secondary school teacher said.

“‘Are you going to do this to this player, are you going to score, whose shirt are you going to ask for?’

“Then you’re thinking if you do something bad then you are going to be a GIF by the end of the week.”

The match will be broadcast live in Britain on the BBC’s main channel and in 40 territories worldwide.

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But with the latest pandemic lockdown preventing fans attending any sport in England, the Marine Travel Arena will be limited to only directors from both clubs and the media, alongside those playing, coaching and officiating.

The closest any fan can get to watching the game in person are any living in a house overlooking the pitch. And coronavirus restrictions prevent them letting in anyone from outside the household bubble for a peek.

“It’s three-sided, a very tight ground, houses on two sides, big stand behind one of the goals — it’s a proper non-league ground,” Marine manager Neil Young said.

“Tottenham won’t be getting changed in the dressing room, they’ll be getting changed in the bar area.”

While Premier League clubs enter only at this third-round stage, Marine began its cup run in the preliminary round in September and has already banked 120,541 pounds in prize money and broadcast fees.

That is a significant windfall for a team that has funding for only 16 players, with another three going unpaid.

The sale of virtual tickets for the match has raised more than 11,000 pounds for Marine.

Tottenham to pay respect by beating Marine

Dan Cairney has been to every game this season but will have to settle for joining the millions watching on television.

“As long as [the score is] less than double figures we will probably be happy with that,” Cairney said while wandering outside the stadium this week.

Due to a tightening of coronavirus restrictions halting its league, Marine has not played in two weeks.

Solomon-Davies has spent the time preparing for potentially defending against Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Gareth Bale by watching clips on YouTube.

Jose Mourinho looks on with his hands in his pockets as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer points in the foreground
Spurs manager José Mourinho says he will be taking a strong team to show respect to Marine FC.(Pool via AP: Carl Recine)

With experience playing for Saint Lucia’s national team and Tranmere, the 21-year-old Solomon-Davies regards this game as more than a novelty moment. It could be the platform for a transfer up the league pyramid.

“It’s a chance for me to see how I compare to those players and if I can compete with them,” he said.

“It’ll be a good test. It’s a big chance for us to showcase our abilities.”

Marine has been receiving assistance from more illustrious teams about 20 minutes away on Merseyside, with Everton and Liverpool allowing them to use their training grounds.

Liverpool, the reigning Premier League champion and current leader managed by Jurgen Klopp, has even helped out with tactical preparation by sending recordings for match analysis.

“We haven’t got the scouting networks or the software to go back and look at games,” manager Young said.

Despite a congested fixture schedule and far more demanding opposition coming up, Tottenham will be showing Marine respect by fielding a strong side.

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Bale even requested to travel as he tries to regain match fitness after an injury halfway through his loan spell from Real Madrid.

So Tottenham, which reached the League Cup final earlier this week, has not been talking up victory in the biggest match in Marine’s 126-year history.

“To show respect to them is to play with a good team, with a team with responsibility, with a team with motivation and to beat them,” Mourinho said.

“If we go there and we lose, of course, it would be massive for them, but it would be because of a lack of respect from us to them.”

While Marine’s manager also works for a train company, Mourinho has been working around Europe and winning trophies with Chelsea, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Manchester United, and Porto.

“I clearly understand the dream,” Mourinho said.

“Nobody puts a foot on the football pitch knowing or feeling that we are going to lose, so I believe that in this moment, they feel like they are going to win and it’s up to us to bring them back to reality.”

AP

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