Late goals from Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen gave the Netherlands a 2-0 win over Senegal in their World Cup return at the Al Thumama Stadium on Monday.

The Oranje had produced a lacklustre performance in their first World Cup match since the 2014 tournament in Brazil, but secured all three points.

With just six minutes of regulation time left on the clock, Gakpo raced into the box and rose in front of Edouard Mendy to meet Frenkie de Jong's cross with a header to break the deadlock.

Louis van Gaal’s side were not convincing, but they had a second goal deep into stoppage time when Klaassen slotted home right at the end of a disappointing Group A contest.

England and six other nations have confirmed their players will not wear the OneLove armband at the World Cup.

The move comes after FIFA threatened to book captains if they broke regulations and made their own statements on social issues, rather than following guidelines from the game’s governing body.

OneLove, which promotes "inclusion and sends a message against discrimination of any kind", has grown in significance in the build-up to the tournament in Qatar, a country in which homosexuality is illegal.

But, following extensive discussions between FIFA and an alliance of football associations – England, Wales, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands – the armband will now not be worn.

A joint statement read: "FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play.

"As national federations, we can't put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games.

"We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.

"We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented – we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response.

"Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways."

England open their World Cup campaign against Iran later on Monday.

In a separate statement, the Dutch FA (KNVB) – the OneLove campaign originated in the Netherlands - expressed its anger and disappointment at FIFA's stance.

It read: "The KNVB and the players of the Dutch national team would like to convey a positive message with OneLove and against all forms of discrimination.

"We wanted to do that at the World Cup together with England, Wales, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and Denmark.

"The UEFA working group, of which the KNVB is part, asked FIFA on September 19 to embrace the OneLove captain's armband. Today, hours before the first match, FIFA has (officially) made it clear to 

us that the captain will receive a yellow card if he wears the OneLove captain's armband.

"We deeply regret that is has not been possible to reach a reasonable solution together.

"We stand with the OneLove message and continue to carry it out, but our first priority at the World Cup is to win matches. You don't want the captain to start the match by getting a yellow card. That is why we had to decide with pain in our hearts - as a UEFA working group, the KNVB and as a team – to abandon our plan.

"As previously announced, the KNVB would have paid a possible fine for wearing the OneLove captain's armband but that FIFA would punish us for this on the field was not expected.

"This goes against the spirit of our sport which connects millions of people. In the coming period, together with the other countries involved, we will take a critical look at our relationship with FIFA."

England and six other nations have confirmed their players will not wear the OneLove armband at the World Cup.

The move comes after FIFA threatened to book captains if they broke regulations and made their own statements on social issues, rather than following guidelines from the game’s governing body.

OneLove, which promotes "inclusion and sends a message against discrimination of any kind", has grown in significance in the build-up to the tournament in Qatar, a country in which homosexuality is illegal.

But, following extensive discussions between FIFA and an alliance of football associations – England, Wales, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands – the armband will now not be worn.

A joint statement read: "FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play.

"As national federations, we can't put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games.

"We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband. However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.

"We are very frustrated by the FIFA decision which we believe is unprecedented – we wrote to FIFA in September informing them of our wish to wear the One Love armband to actively support inclusion in football, and had no response.

"Our players and coaches are disappointed – they are strong supporters of inclusion and will show support in other ways."

England open their World Cup campaign against Iran later on Monday.

Sadio Mane is backing Senegal's Lions of Teranga to show they still have sharp claws without him in Monday's World Cup opener against the Netherlands.

Bayern Munich forward Mane was set to spearhead the team's quest in Qatar, but a cruel leg injury has ruled him out of the tournament.

On paper, it seems the team are significantly weakened by his absence, but Mane says the reality could be rather different, backing the group he left to rise to their challenge.

The former Liverpool star wrote on Instagram: "This Monday, our dear country will compete in the World Cup, Qatar 2022. I am sure the Lions will transcend and approach every game as a true final.

"I am also convinced that all Senegalese will be in front of the small screen to support and encourage our valiant national team.

"Like all supporters of the 'Taniere' [lions' den], I am convinced that my team-mates will fight as one man and as they usually do to honour our dear Senegal. Long live Senegal, come on the Lions."

Senegal were surprise quarter-finalists in 2002, and as reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions they were considered by many as the continent's biggest hope for World Cup success this time around.

Losing Mane will change that perception for many observers.

The 30-year-old had a tendon reattached to the head of his right fibula after being ruled out of Senegal's squad, and he could face several months on the sidelines.

Mane thanked well-wishers, writing: "Many of you have sent messages of support following my injury. Thank God, the surgery I had in the middle of the week went well. I want to take this opportunity to thank and show my appreciation to you all."

Virgil van Dijk was saddened to hear his former Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane would miss the World Cup, but he hopes the Netherlands will profit from the Senegal star's absence on Monday. 

Africa Cup of Nations champions Senegal suffered a huge blow on Thursday, when it was confirmed Mane would not recover from a fibula injury in time to feature at the tournament.

Mane has been directly involved in 12 of the last 25 goals scored by Senegal players at either the Africa Cup of Nations or the World Cup, leading coach Aliou Cisse to concede the Lions of Teranga would have to cope without their best player in Qatar.

Although Van Dijk acknowledges Mane's woes could benefit the Netherlands in Monday's Group A meeting, he has been in touch with the Bayern Munich attacker and pities his misfortune.

"I called him the next day. I wanted to know how he was, first and foremost, because there were so many rumours that he was out for a while," Van Dijk said of his reaction to Mane's injury.

"As a friend, I wanted to know how he was. Unfortunately, at the time, he'd already not had the best of news, but there was a little bit of hope, everyone thought.

"Unfortunately, he won't be able to make this tournament and I feel sad for him. I know how hard he worked for this. He wants to be important for Senegal and he has been important for them, in the last couple of years especially.

"It's tough. Obviously he's going to be a big miss for them, and hopefully we can benefit from that a little bit as well."

Although the Netherlands failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia, they have won 11 of their last 14 World Cup matches (D2 L1), with their only loss during that run coming in 2010's final against Spain.

Aliou Cisse vowed Senegal "will leave our mark" at the World Cup as they look to extend their perfect opening-game record at the tournament when they face the Netherlands.

The reigning African champions have won their previous two openers – a shock 1-0 win over France in 2002 and a 2-1 victory against Poland in 2018.

Senegal reached the quarter-finals 20 years ago, but they were eliminated in the group stage in the most recent edition and Cisse is hoping for a different outcome this time.

"The aim is to get out of this group. Once we get out of this group, we know that it will be a knockout tournament," he told reporters. 

"We will leave our mark. People are already looking ahead to the last 16, the quarter-finals, but we will be taking it a game at a time.

"We're not getting carried away. It's up to us to fully prepare ourselves and to do so wisely. We were knocked out of the last World Cup after just three games."

Senegal defeated Egypt in February to win their first Africa Cup of Nations title, before beating the same side the following month in a World Cup qualifying play-off.

Cisse's side are ranked 18th in the world – 10 places behind the Netherlands – and are without star man Sadio Mane in Qatar due to injury.

Senegal may have a perfect opening-game record, but the Netherlands are unbeaten in their past eight curtain-raising matches, winning six of those.

 

Oranje are back on the world stage after failing to qualify for Russia 2018, with veteran boss Louis van Gaal now in his third spell in charge.

Van Gaal, who will step aside at the end of the tournament, admits his side will need more than just talent to go all the way in Qatar and lift the trophy for the first time.

"I don't believe we have the best players on earth in our team," he said. "But I believe in team building and in tactics. I believe we can go far.

"But we also need luck – that is also important. Because of that and because I believe in imagination, we could be the world champion at the end of the tournament."

Monday's Group A contest at Al Thumama Stadium will mark the first time Senegal and three-time World Cup runners-up Netherlands have met.

Oranje are unbeaten in four matches against African opposition in the finals, while Senegal have won two and drawn one against European sides in the group stage.


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Senegal - Boulaye Dia

Losing Mane to injury just before the tournament was a cruel blow for Senegal, the forward having been directly involved in 12 of their past 25 goals in major tournaments.

It will now be down to others to step up and fill the void, such as Salernitana forward Boulaye Dia, who has been in good form at club level this campaign.

Dia has six goals in 14 Serie A matches – a tally only five others can better – and has been directly involved in eight overall for mid-table Salernitana.

Netherlands - Steven Bergwijn

Memphis Depay was the Netherlands' star man on the road to Qatar with 12 goals and six assists – those 18 direct goal involvements the most of any player in UEFA qualifying – but he has been ruled out of the Senegal match.

Van Gaal has a number of other options in attack, however, with Bergwijn one of them.

The Ajax winger has eight goals and three assists in 14 Eredivisie matches this campaign, and  six goals in his past nine appearances for his country, making him one Van Gaal can rely on.


PREDICTION

The Netherlands have won 11 of their past 14 matches at the World Cup, penalty shoot-outs excluded, with their most recent group-stage loss coming in 1994 against Belgium.

Senegal are tricky first opponents for Oranje, but Stats Perform's AI model has given the Netherlands a 59.2 per cent chance of taking all three points in Al Thumama.

The prediction model gives Senegal a 17 per cent chance of victory, while a draw is rated at 23.8 per cent.

The World Cup in Qatar is finally set to get underway, but there are a number of major players who will be watching along with the fans back home.

An unfortunate reality about the tournament is there will always be significant absences, either through a nation's failure to qualify or due to injury.

It is the latter that has been a major focus in the final week before Sunday's kick-off, with Senegal star Sadio Mane and France striker Karim Benzema both being late withdrawals from their respective squads, the latter suffering a quadriceps injury on Saturday, depriving the tournament of the 2022 Ballon d'Or winner.

Benzema's injury is just one of several significant blows for holders France, and they dominate Stats Perform's injured XI of the players unable to feature in Qatar.

Goalkeeper: Mike Maignan (France)

Maignan had a fine maiden season at Milan after joining from Lille. He kept 17 clean sheets in Serie A last term, the highest tally in the league, and conceded just 21 goals, with his save percentage of 79.4 the best of any Serie A goalkeeper to play more than 10 games in the competition.

He has made seven appearances this season, but the 27-year-old suffered a calf injury in October, leaving Didier Deschamps shorn of a quality shot-stopper to challenge Hugo Lloris.

 

Defence: Ben Chilwell (England), Reece James (England), Presnel Kimpembe (France)

Chelsea duo Reece James and Ben Chilwell were by no means guaranteed to start for England, but it's still a blow to Gareth Southgate not to have the pair available.

James has excelled at wing-back and would have been an ideal fit if England stick with a three-man defence, while he could also have slotted in at centre-back, and Chilwell would likely offer more attacking threat than Luke Shaw on the left should the Three Lions have needed to chase a game.

Paris Saint-Germain defender Presnel Kimpembe helped France win the 2018 World Cup, but he had to withdraw from Deschamps' squad for Qatar due to an Achilles problem.

Midfield: N'Golo Kante (France), Giovani Lo Celso (Argentina), Paul Pogba (France), Georginio Wijnaldum (Netherlands)

Giovani Lo Celso was not always a key player for Tottenham but retained his place as a crucial cog for Argentina. La Albiceleste will be without the midfielder, who sustained a hamstring injury while playing for Villarreal against Athletic Bilbao late in October.

Georginio Wijnaldum scored three goals in four games for the Netherlands at Euro 2020, but shortly after joining Roma on loan from PSG, the former Liverpool midfielder suffered a fractured tibia and had no chance of recovering in time to make Louis van Gaal's squad.

Another two France stars complete the midfield, with Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante missing for Les Bleus. Both players were exceptional in 2018, but Kante is out with a hamstring problem, while Pogba is yet to make an appearance for Juventus this season after joining from Manchester United.

 

Attack: Karim Benzema (France), Sadio Mane (Senegal), Christopher Nkunku (France)

It's fair to say France have been hit hardest by injuries to big players, and there could arguably be none bigger than Benzema, the Ballon d'Or holder. Given he is 34, it could well have been the Real Madrid striker's final shot at a World Cup and is a huge blow not only to France but to football fans around the world who were highly anticipating the Benzema-Kylian Mbappe link-up.

A player who might have softened the blow of Benzema's injury was Christopher Nkunku, had he not already been ruled out himself with a knee issue sustained in training last week, just before Les Bleus left for Qatar. Nkunku has been in sensational form for RB Leipzig, with only Mbappe of players from Europe's top five leagues having scored more goals (58) since the start of last season than the RB Leipzig star, who has amassed 52 in 75 games.

Mane, meanwhile, was carrying the hopes of Senegal on his shoulders. The Africa Cup of Nations holders have a talented squad, but Mane was the stardust. He went down with an injury to his fibula while in action for Bayern Munich just before the World Cup break, and though Senegal named the ex-Liverpool attacker in their squad, he underwent surgery earlier this week and was duly ruled out.

 

Netherlands head coach Louis van Gaal has backed fans who have decided to boycott the World Cup in Qatar.

After a 12-year wait loaded with controversy, the first World Cup to be played in the Middle East begins on Sunday when Qatar face Ecuador.

There has been scrutiny on the hosts surrounding human rights issues, the treatment of migrant workers and the illegality of homosexuality, with FIFA having written to all participating nations and urging them to "focus on the football".

That seems unlikely to happen, however, with a number of nations already speaking out, and Van Gaal has issued his support to any fans boycotting the tournament.

"I think that they are right to do that because they believe in that and they have to do that, so no problem with that," he said.

"And I hope that we play so fantastic that at the end of the tournament when we play the final, they shall look for the television how good we are.

"I think that you have to play in football countries, more experience with everything, but also to stimulate that country in another way, in the right way.

"This is also a small country, my family or my friends have a lot of difficulties to find the place, so that's also a remark.

"The organisation and the pitches and everything, the facilities, these are very good."

On the field, Van Gaal admits that he does not have the best players at his disposal in the Netherlands squad but still feels they can be successful.

"I believe that we don't have the best players on earth in our team, but I believe in team building and tactics and I believe that we can come to the end but we need also luck, that is also important," he explained.

"And because of that and because I believe in imagination, I speak about to be the world champion at the end of the tournament because when you can imagine that, you can do it also on the pitch, because we have players who can execute the tactics of the coaches of the Netherlands."

The Netherlands begin their campaign against Senegal on November 22, before facing Ecuador and hosts Qatar in Group A.

Virgil van Dijk has expressed sympathy for Sadio Mane after his former Liverpool team-mate was ruled out of Senegal's World Cup opener against the Netherlands.

Mane's place at the tournament in Qatar looked to be in doubt when he suffered a fibula injury while representing Bayern Munich, but he was included in the Africa Cup of Nations champions' 26-man squad last week.

On Tuesday, however, Senegalese Football Federation board member Abdoulaye Sow ruled Mane out of the team's "first matches" at the World Cup.

Van Dijk missed the Netherlands' Euro 2020 campaign last year after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury, and sympathises with Mane amid his battle to feature in Qatar.

"I don't think he will play [against the Netherlands]," Van Dijk told reporters. "I was feeling sad for him, first and foremost. I'm not happy in this case as I've been in that situation where I missed the Euros.

"We as players work so hard to get to this stage, and he has been such an important figure in that group for their country.

"I know for a fact that he will put a brave face on it, but it's tough and I feel sorry for him."

With the Netherlands missing out on qualification for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Van Dijk has had to wait until the age of 31 to appear at a major tournament.

However, the defender feels that wait will make his experience in Qatar more special, adding: "I'm really excited about playing against the best players in world football, leading out my country and representing my country in the best way possible.

"For me, it is a boyhood dream. I'm 31 now but it doesn't change the fact that I'm going to enjoy this as much. Maybe it is an even better time for me to go there because of everything that I have experienced and also we have a great group, so I am very excited about it."

As captain of Louis van Gaal's team, Van Dijk will be one of eight European skippers to wear a distinctive heart-adorned armband at the tournament to raise awareness of the OneLove campaign against discrimination.

Qatar's criminalisation of same-sex relationships and failure to address concerns about migrant workers' conditions has led to criticism of their status as World Cup hosts, but while Van Dijk is "open" to pushing for change through football, he believes FIFA should take the lead.

"I'm fully focused on the first game, and I think people higher up really should make a difference," Van Dijk said.

"Obviously when we're there, we have eyes as well. We will see things and always as a group if we feel we can make a change, we will be open to that.

"But we shouldn't be forced to do certain things which maybe you're not comfortable with. We can always try and make an impact on everything that's happening, but I'm a football player.

"I'm a human being and you guys know exactly that I'm not shy about saying exactly what I think, that's definitely the case.

"We'll see what happens, but the first thing is football. I’m not a politician. FIFA is definitely one of the responsible ones it starts with."

Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal said he saw several of his players "naked" when he called them to inform them of his World Cup squad selections.

The Oranje have named their 26-man party for Qatar 2022, with a string of surprise selections and omissions in Friday's announcement.

Uncapped trio Xavi Simons, Jeremie Frimpong and Andries Noppert have been included, but there is no place for Bayern Munich's Ryan Gravenberch or Newcastle United's Sven Botman.

Speaking on the calls to inform prospective squad members ahead of the announcement, Van Gaal reflected on the difficulty of his selections, while revealing he caught several players unawares.

"It was really tough," he said at a press conference. "I even took the time difference into account for the people in England. I saw naked players, because they were still in bed!

"I've said a hundred times I think this group is fantastic. But this is about the vision of the national coach. I discovered that this morning when I told a player he would not attend a World Cup. It is not easy."

Other major names missing from the Netherlands' first World Cup squad for eight years – they famously missed Russia 2018 – include Villarreal's Arnaut Danjuma and NEC goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen.

Having missed their return to tournament football at Euro 2020 through injury, Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk will skipper the side, where he will wear the OneLove armband in support of LGBTQ+ rights.

FIFA has already warned against such political action in Qatar, but Van Gaal says he is not interested in the governing body's stance, instead preferring his captain's opinion.

"I think it's not important what FIFA thinks," he added. "It's about what our association thinks, how the national manager thinks about but mostly what Virgil van Dijk thinks.

"I can say something about the situation, that doesn't make a difference. [Liverpool manager Jurgen] Klopp said it the right way, and I totally back him on his opinion.

"We are going to play there, and we won't often think about the fact that things aren't done the right way. There are so many things that are not okay, even in our country."

Uncapped trio Andries Noppert, Jeremie Frimpong and Xavi Simons have been named in Louis van Gaal's Netherlands squad for the World Cup, but there is no place for Sven Botman or Ryan Gravenberch.

Van Gaal has opted for Bayer Leverkusen right-back Frimpong over Newcastle United centre-back Botman, while in midfield 19-year-old Simons secures his spot ahead of Gravenberch – who has struggled for minutes since joining Bayern Munich.

Gravenberch's Bayern team-mate Matthijs de Ligt does make it, while Premier League defenders Virgil van Dijk and Nathan Ake are also both unsurprisingly named along with Manchester United's Tyrell Malacia.

In midfield, Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong is in alongside Atalanta duo Marten de Roon and Teun Koopmeiners, with Ajax's 20-year-old Kenneth Taylor also looking to add to his two caps to date.

PSV's Cody Gakpo is the standout name in attack, along with Barcelona's Memphis Depay, but there is no spot for Borussia Dortmund's Donyell Malen or Villarreal's Arnaut Danjuma.

The Netherlands begin their World Cup campaign on November 21 against Senegal, before also facing Qatar and Ecuador in Group A.

Netherlands squad: Justin Bijlow (Feyenoord), Andries Noppert (Heerenveen), Remko Pasveer (Ajax); Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Nathan Ake (Man City), Daley Blind (Ajax), Jurrien Timber (Ajax), Denzel Dumfries (Inter), Stefan de Vrij (Lazio), Matthijs de Ligt (Bayern Munich), Tyrell Malacia (Manchester United), Jeremie Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen); Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Steven Berghuis (Ajax), Davy Klaassen (Ajax), Teun Koopmeiners (Atalanta), Marten de Roon (Atalanta), Kenneth Taylor (Ajax), Xavi Simons (PSV); Cody Gakpo (PSV) Memphis Depay (Barcelona), Steven Bergwijn (Ajax), Vincent Janssen (Antwerp), Luuk de Jong (PSV), Noa Lang (Brugge), Wout Weghorst (Besiktas)

South Africa captain Temba Bavuma says he will not make an "emotional" decision over his future as skipper after his side's shock exit from the T20 World Cup.

The Proteas fumbled their final game against an impressive Netherlands side, coming up short in a 13-run loss that allowed Pakistan to capitalise and leapfrog them into the top two.

That sends the latter and India through to join New Zealand and England in the knockout stages of this year's tournament, leaving South Africa out in the cold after just two wins.

Having missed out on qualification to the semi-finals a year ago following an inferior net run rate, it marks the second successive T20 World Cup in which they have underperformed, but Bavuma is in no rush to decide his next steps.

"It's been a tricky time," he stated. "To be considering that now, a lot of it will be emotional, in terms of my role as captain within the team. It's something I will think about. I will speak to the relevant people.

"We have to see who comes in as a coach. Generally when you have changes like that, they might come in with a different style.

"They might find a different leader to execute whatever vision or style of play that they have. It will be emotional now if I think about all of that."

Bavuma admitted the burden of captaincy amid frustrating tournaments for his side had been near the front of his thoughts, adding: "Mentally, it does eat at you as a player.

"You try to manage your mental space as much as you can. You try to control what gets to you but with social media, whatever is being said out there always gets to you.

"I always try to keep a level head, through all the good and the bad times. I try to be as close to myself as possible. Not just for myself but for this group. We are going to take a lot of flack as a group and rightly so."

The Netherlands have produced a stunning upset to knock South Africa out of the T20 World Cup after a 13-run victory at Adelaide Oval on Sunday.

The Proteas simply needed to beat the associate nation to secure their spot in the semi-finals but allowed the Netherlands to score 158-4, including 45 off the final four overs, before falling apart in the chase, to be 145-8

South Africa's slip-up means the winner of the Pakistan-Bangladesh game at the same venue in fine conditions will finish second in Group 2 and take on Group 1 winners New Zealand in the semis at the SCG on Wednesday. The Proteas' loss also means India go through and top Group 2.

Player of the Match Colin Ackermann was heroic for the Dutch with an unbeaten 41 from 26 balls, helping their late charge, before Brandon Glover (3-9) and Fred Klaassen (2-20) starred with the ball.

South Africa's pursuit never got going after the loss of openers Quinton de Kock (13) and Temba Bavuma (20), but they seemed in a winning position at 90-3 in the 13th over, needing 68 off 46.

Yet it all fell apart for the Proteas with wickets tumbling, as Klaassen had Aiden Markram caught by Stephan Myburgh before Glover grabbed two quick wickets to dismiss potential game-winner David Miller for 17 and Wayne Parnell for a duck. From there, South Africa's tail could not get them near the target.

Van der Merwe delivers the key moment

Roelof van der Merwe's brilliant catch running backwards to dismiss danger man Miller was arguably the moment of the match. South Africa had six wickets left, needing 47 off 29 balls, when Miller mis-timed a hook shot, which was lofted towards fine leg but the 37-year-old never took his eyes off the ball and pulled off a diving effort to re-claim any momentum the Proteas had at that stage.

Another South African World Cup disaster

South Africa's loss and subsequent elimination will be tough to swallow. The Proteas, who have never made a T20 World Cup final and have an inglorious past in the 50-over version, appeared destined for the last four for the first time since 2014. Instead, they suffered their first-ever loss to the Netherlands across any format.

Wayne Parnell explained the motivation he takes from Cristiano Ronaldo as the bowler looked towards South Africa's T20 World Cup clash with the Netherlands.

Ronaldo has altered his goal celebration as of late, replacing his famous "Siu" with a "peace of mind" gesture, seemingly in response to his trouble at Manchester United this season.

It is a celebration that has been copied at the T20 World Cup by South Africa paceman Parnell, standing with his eyes closed, fingers crossed in front of his chest and his head rolled back.

Parnell has taken five wickets so far in Australia, helping South Africa to two victories in Group 2. Ahead of their final match of the pool stage against the Netherlands on Sunday, the Proteas sit in second place, and a victory over the Dutch would guarantee their place in the last four.

And in his pre-match press conference, Parnell explained how he takes inspiration from one of the world's finest footballers.

He said: "It's the Ronaldo celebration. He has always been one of my favourite footballers, and I've obviously followed his career quite closely.

"And I think I've kind of taken on some stuff that he has been going through, you know, as a professional athlete and someone that's very competitive and passionate about doing well.

"That's something that I've always wanted to do as well is contribute to the team's success."

It is not all about emulating an idol, though. For Parnell, it is also about enjoying playing in front of crowds again following the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's just about having fun as well," Parnell added, "I think, you know, we're very lucky to be playing this sport and to be able to do it on this world stage.

"Obviously, there's no COVID, so we have fans back, and it's just about entertaining everyone."

Looking ahead to South Africa's must-win game on Sunday, Parnell said: "I think now it's just really simple. If you actually look at it, tomorrow is basically a quarter-final. Then obviously if we win that, we go to a semi-final. If we win that, we go to the final.

"In a way it's actually worked out well where we are under a certain amount of pressure to obviously get through, but I always like to look at it from a positive point of view where it's basically a quarter-final. It's just about winning it really."

Max O'Dowd made a gutsy half century as the Netherlands recorded a deserved five-wicket win over Zimbabwe, who are all but eliminated from the T20 World Cup.

Paul van Meekeren set the tone with the ball, taking 3-29 as Zimbabwe were knocked over for just 117 in a poor batting display at the Adelaide Oval.

Sikandar Raza made a brisk 40 off 24 and Sean Williams 28 off 23 to ensure there was not total humiliation but no other Zimbabwe batsman made double figures.

Dutch opener O'Dowd scrapped his way to 52, making eight fours and one six, to set the chase up nicely.

Tom Cooper also played a part with 32 off 29. Richard Ngarava (2-23) accounted for Colin Ackerman (1) and Scott Edwards (5), while Blessing Muzarabani ended O'Dowd's knock but the Netherlands had enough to get over the line.

Zimbabwe are fourth in Group 2 with just one more Super 12 game to play, while the Dutch remain rock bottom but at least get in the win column.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.