The Sport Matrix: Wednesday 12 November 2014


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Impressive Everton ease past Lille

O’Neill on track with bold Euro bid

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill is enjoying the challenge of trying to guide his team – filled mainly with lower-league players – through their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. The side have made a great start, winning their first three Group F games, and are halfway to the 18 points O’Neill thinks may be enough to qualify. They have not been to a major finals since 1986.

Skiing violinist is given four-year ban

Violinist Vanessa-Mae is banned from skiing for four years after results were rigged to aid her qualification for the Sochi Winter Olympics. The International Ski Federation (FIS) found that qualifying races had been organised by Mae’s own management company with the assistance of Thailand’s Olympic Committee simply to get her into the tournament. She came last in the giant slalom in Sochi.

Moyes warned about Sociedad

David Moyes has been warned of the challenges of managing at Real Sociedad. Chris Coleman lasted just seven months in the post at the Spanish club and he said: “It was a real eye-opener for me. It’s not easy and you feel a bit isolated because you can’t speak the language. At Sociedad, everything is on top of you. You can’t even go down to the local café for a break because everyone knows who you are.”

Gibraltar: from Sunday league to German test

Gibraltar’s national football captain is in awe of their rapid progress as he contemplates the huge task his team face when they take on Germany on Friday.

“To put things in perspective, we have gone from Sunday league football to playing the world champions in 18 months,” said Roy Chipolina ahead of the European Championship qualifier. “Sometimes I have to pinch myself.”

The small British colony only became a recognised international team when it was accepted as the 54th and smallest member of UEFA in 2013.

He added: “We have gone from 10 people watching us play to 35,000 people watching us play.”

Hamilton: I’m stronger than ever

Lewis Hamilton feels more ready to win the title now than he did in 2008, as he prepares for the finale with rival Nico Rosberg in Abu Dhabi. Hamilton said: “I know I am more prepared now than I have ever been. I am stronger now than I was then, both mentally and physically.”