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Football – Taarabt hopeful of Morocco call
QPR midfielder Adel Taarabt has revealed he would not be able to turn down a call-up from Morocco, to play in the Africa Cup of Nations. Hoops manager Harry Redknapp had asked the midfielder to stay in the country as they attempt to battle against relegation from the Premier League. However, Taarabt is determined to impress national team coach Rachid Taoussi and win a call-up to the Moroccan side, who are 14/1 with bet365 to win the tournament. “I will do everything I can to prove to him [Taoussi] that I deserve to be there,” the 23-year-old told the L’Equipe website. “He [Redknapp] came to see me to ask me not to go but I told him, If they call me, I can’t refuse, boss. I love my country, I love the Moroccan people and football means a lot to them. I warned him that the only solution was that the coach doesn’t call me up.”
Cricket – Pietersen set for new England deal
Andy Flower says Kevin Pietersen deserves a new England contract, describing the batsman’s recent form and behaviour as “excellent”. Pietersen signed a four-month deal before the tour of India with England, who are 11/8 with bet365 to win the first Twenty20 match on Thursday and Flower believes both parties will soon agree a full annual contract. “The contract won’t be a problem,” said the England coach, “Kevin has been excellent in every way. We don’t all always get on with people all of the time, any of us in any walk of life and everyone has made an effort to make it work. It’s been really good fun and he should be very proud of the way he’s operated out here, both as an individual and as a player.”
Formula 1 – Vettel targets four in a row
Sebastian Vettel has issued a warning to his Formula 1 rivals, insisting he will not be slowing down in 2013 as he chases a fourth world title. The 25-year-old made history as the sport’s youngest triple title winner this year and is 11/8 with bet365 to win again in 2013. “As a team member I want us to be as successful in 2013 as we have been this year and the two previous years,” the Red Bull driver told the official Formula 1 website. “And personally, I never had to simulate motivation, that is part of my nature.” Vettel was taken to the last race of the season this year by Fernando Alonso, eventually winning by three points over the Ferrari driver.