Zola named Sarri's right-hand man

LONDON - Gianfranco Zola was Wednesday named as assistant coach to new manager Maurizio Sarri, marking a return to the club where he spent seven years as a player, the Premier League outfit announced. Zola, 52, played for the Londoners from 1996 until 2003, scoring 80 goals, including the winner in the 1998 European Cup Winners Cup final.  He also won the Super Cup, two FA Cups and the League Cup. "For me it is an amazing thing. I am very willing to work hard because it is going to be a difficult challenge but I am pleased to be here, and to work hard with Maurizio to be successful," Zola said. "It would be great to be successful with Maurizio and for the club and I will give my best, as I did in the past as a player, so I will give my best in my new position.–AFP

Arsenal’s Nwakali joins Porto on loan

LONDON - Arsenal's Nigeria midfielder Kelechi Nwakali joined Portuguese champions Porto on a season-long loan on Thursday. Nwakali, 20, has yet to break into the Arsenal team since moving to the Premier League club in 2016. He was sent on loan to Dutch side MVV Maastricht for the 2016-17 season and returned to Holland for a loan spell at VVV Venlo last term. "Kelechi Nwakali will spend next season on loan with Portuguese side FC Porto. The deal is subject to the completion of regulatory processes," Arsenal said. Nwakali has played once for Nigeria's senior team after captaining his country to victory at the Under-17 World Cup in 2015. Nwakali added: "My main goal is to develop, improve my qualities and the other aspects I know I need to correct to grow in the way I play," he said.–AFP

Pavard may join Bayern before new season

BERLIN - The France World Cup defender Benjamin Pavard, who shot to fame with a brilliant goal against Argentina, has signed a contract to join Bayern Munich in 2019 but reports in Germany suggested Thursday the 22-year-old may make the switch even sooner. Bayern reportedly agreed a deal with Stuttgart before the World Cup, to join the German champions in 2019. German regional television SWR said, however, that Stuttgart were locked in talks with Bayern over releasing Pavard early, after already agreeing a 35-million euros transfer fee. The player was keeping his cards close to his chest on Wednesday when asked in his hometown where his future lay. "Let's see, for now I'm at Stuttgart and I don't know yet where I'll be this season," he said. "I'm very happy at Stuttgart however," said Pavard.–AFP

Kazakh Ten stabbed to death at 25

ASTANA - Kazakh figure skater Denis Ten, who won bronze at the Sochi Olympics in 2014, died on Thursday aged 25 after being stabbed, Kazakhstan's culture and sports ministry told AFP. Ten died in hospital after medics fought to save his life following the attack in which he lost three litres of blood, the ministry's press service said. Kazakhstan's Vesti.kz news website reported that Ten died of stab wounds after being attacked by would-be car thieves. He was reportedly stabbed in the right thigh, causing severe blood loss. City police said that he was stabbed by two unidentified attackers who were trying to steal mirrors from his car, RIA Novosti news agency reported. The ISU tweeted: "Our heartfelt condolences go out to Denis' family, friends and fans across the world."–AFP

AC Milan challenge UEFA ban at CAS

LAUSANNE - AC Milan's senior executives were at the world's top sports court on Thursday fighting to overturn a European ban for breaking UEFA's financial fair play rules. Managing director Marco Fassone, chief financial officer Valentina Montanari and a team of lawyers were set to lobby the Court of Arbitration for Sport to overturn the Italian club's Europa League ban for the upcoming season. The hearing is expected to last a full day with a decision due within 24 hours, a CAS spokesperson has said. AC Milan have spent a troubled 15 months since they were bought by Chinese businessman Li Yonghong from Silvio Berlusconi in April 2017. The takeover was partly funded by a high-interest loan of 300 million euros ($348 million) from American hedge fund Elliott Management.–AFP