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Premier League return: the issues to resolve

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Premier League football is set to return on June 17 after a three-month coronavirus-enforced absence.

Nothing realistically will stop Liverpool from being crowned English champions for the first time in 30 years.

But there are a whole host of other issues to sort out, including relegation and next year’s European places, with the drama set to take place in empty, echoing stadiums.

AFP Sport takes a look at what still needs to be resolved.

When will Liverpool be champions?

Liverpool were 25 points clear of Manchester City and just two wins away from becoming English champions for the first time since 1990 when the league was suspended in March.

When will Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool be able to start their Premier League title party? PHOTO: AFP/File / Adrian DENNIS

But while COVID-19 may have delayed their title party, nobody seriously believes it is not going to happen.

Two more wins would make it mathematically impossible for City to catch Liverpool but the Reds could triumph by winning their first game if City lose at home to Arsenal on June 17.

Jurgen Klopp’s men can also break two of City’s most cherished records — they need 19 points from the remaining 27 to beat the Manchester club’s total of 100 points from the 2017/18 season and they could also better City’s record title-winning margin of 19 points from the same campaign.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson lifted the Champions League trophy in a packed stadium in Madrid last June but is preparing for a different experience this year.

“Of course it would feel different because if you win any trophy and receive it without any fans there, it would be pretty strange,” he told the BBC.

Champions League battle

Intriguingly, the battle for the top four might instead be a battle for the top five.

Liverpool are assured of their place in the Champions League and the other top-four places are currently occupied by Manchester City, Leicester and Chelsea.

Will Manchester City be in the Champions League next season? PHOTO: AFP/File / Paul ELLIS

But as things stand, City cannot compete in Europe’s top club competition for the next two seasons after being banned for financial fair play breaches.

Pep Guardiola’s side have appealed, however, and could still compete if the suspension is overturned.

If it is upheld, whoever finishes fifth will take their place in next season’s Champions League. Manchester United currently occupy that position but Wolves and Sheffield United are both just two points behind Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team.

Eighth-placed Tottenham and Arsenal, one spot lower, will also fancy their chances of finishing fifth with a late charge.

Battle to avoid the drop

Norwich, Aston Villa and Bournemouth occupy the bottom three places in the Premier League but all will harbour hopes they can escape the drop.

Watford striker Troy Deeney will be hoping to lead his club to safety. PHOTO: AFP/File / Glyn KIRK

Norwich are rock-bottom and six points from safety but a win at home to Leicester in late February gave them hope.

Villa had lost four straight games before the shutdown so the break could end up helping the Birmingham team, who have a game in hand over their rivals, while Eddie Howe will be desperate for Bournemouth to find some form after a run of seven defeats in 10 games.

Above the current bottom three, Watford are still in trouble despite their impressive initial revival under Nigel Pearson, while West Ham and Brighton are far from safe.

Fit to play

A clutch of top players will be raring to go after lengthy spells on the sidelines.

Harry Kane could play a key role for Tottenham in the Premier League run-in. PHOTO: AFP/File / Adrian DENNIS

Reporting and photo: AFP

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Catch the wind with Kitesurfing World Champion Youri Zoon at COMO Cocoa Island

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Embark on an exhilarating kitesurfing odyssey from May 6th to 20th, 2024, at COMO Cocoa Island alongside Youri Zoon, celebrated for seizing the kitesurfing world championship twice. Under his seasoned guidance, amplify your kitesurfing prowess, whether you’re a neophyte craving the fundamentals or a seasoned aficionado striving for intricate manoeuvres and airborne thrills.

Kitesurfing merges windsurfing, surfing, and wakeboarding for a dynamic water sport. Using controllable kites, riders harness wind power to glide across the ocean’s surface while being set against the backdrop of endless horizons and azure waters.

Throughout his residency, Zoon will conduct guided kitesurfing sessions, offering novices a gentle introduction to the sport or empowering veterans to elevate their abilities. Additionally, Zoon will host enlightening COMO Conversations, delving into his personal journey to kitesurfing eminence and the obstacles he surmounted along the way.

Guests may arrange activities with Zoon at their leisure, with plenty of time to make the most of our private island comforts, from massage treatments at COMO Shambhala to sandbank dinners under the stars and more.

Hailing from the Netherlands, Zoon’s affinity for kiteboarding burgeoned at the tender age of 13. A prodigious talent, he swiftly amassed accolades, securing victories at the Junior European Championships and Dutch Nationals in his inaugural year. Subsequently clinching the world title in 2011 and 2012, Zoon’s enduring passion for the sport fuels his ongoing commitment to mentorship and coaching, ensuring his legacy endures both on and off the water.

Nestled within South Male Atoll, COMO Cocoa Island beckons discerning travelers with its intimate enclave of 33 overwater villas. Renowned for its iconic Dhoni Water Villas, which pay homage to Maldivian maritime heritage, this idyllic retreat offers a sanctuary of tranquillity and indulgence. Accessible via a scenic 40-minute speedboat journey from Velana International Airport, COMO Cocoa Island promises an unrivalled blend of luxury and seclusion.

For details on COMO Hotels and Resorts or to plan your next escape, please visit https://www.comohotels.com/cocoaisland.

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Sheraton Maldives hosts successful second season of Full Moon Futsal Cup

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Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa celebrated the culmination of the highly anticipated Full Moon Futsal Cup on March 31, 2024. The tournament, which commenced on March 17th, brought together 12 teams from neighboring resorts in Malé Atoll, fostering a spirit of friendly competition and camaraderie.

SO/ Maldives emerged victorious after a thrilling final match, securing the coveted title of Full Moon Futsal Cup Champions 2024. Mohamed El Aghoury, General Manager of Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa, presented the winning team with the Championship trophy and gold medals during a closing ceremony. Additional prizes, medals, and certificates were awarded to recognize the exceptional talent displayed by all participants.

“We are honored to have hosted and participated in such a vibrant tournament,” Mohamed El Aghoury commented, reflecting on the event’s success. “The Full Moon Futsal Cup celebrates not only sportsmanship but also fosters strong bonds within the resort community.”

Throughout the tournament, all teams showcased exceptional skill, determination, and teamwork, captivating spectators and fellow competitors alike. Notably, Sheraton Maldives’ own associate teams, Team Sheraton and Team Furana FC, participated with commendable spirit.

This involvement aligns with Marriott International’s Associate Resource Groups (ARGs) initiative, which prioritizes fostering an inclusive workplace where employees feel valued. The participation of the Young Professionals ARG team specifically exemplifies the group’s dedication to community building, skill development, and mentorship. The tournament provided a platform to spotlight the energy and potential of young professionals, promoting their growth and contributing to the organization’s future success.

Extending beyond a sporting event, the Full Moon Futsal Cup embodies the values of unity, friendship, and healthy competition. This aligns with Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa’s commitment to fostering community connections and Marriott International’s TakeCare philosophy, which emphasizes the importance of physical well-being among associates.

The Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa extends its sincere gratitude to all participating teams, supporters, sponsors, and organizers who contributed to the resounding success of the Full Moon Futsal Cup 2024. The resort eagerly anticipates continuing this tradition of sporting excellence and camaraderie in the years to come.

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Dive into memorable underwater adventure with Baros Maldives’s Eco Explorer Experience

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In today’s world, where the fragile balance of marine ecosystems teeters on the edge, to call for sustainable tourism practices resonates louder than ever. Baros Maldives, deeply rooted in its respect for nature, leads the way in conservation and preservation. Baros’s Eco Explorer Experience stands as a testament to the island’s commitment, inviting guests to not just observe but to actively contribute to the safeguarding of our underwater sanctuaries.

Nestled on a lush, natural island paradise, Baros is a sanctuary surrounded by a kaleidoscope of marine life, boasting a world-class house reef, celebrated for its unparalleled beauty and biodiversity, attracting adventurers and nature lovers alike.

The Eco Explorer Experience is a carefully curated immersive experience designed for those who seek to delve deeper into the mysteries of the ocean. This experience is more than an adventure; it’s a journey of discovery and contribution, offering intimate encounters with the marvels of the sea, all while promoting marine conservation.

With this experience, Baros guests enjoy a myriad of enriching activities, culminating in a bespoke photobook documenting the essence of their Eco Explorer journey beneath the waves.

Coral Restoration and Conservation: Participants will immerse themselves in coral ecology, by planting personal coral gardens under the guidance of Baros’s resident Marine Biologist. This hands -on experience not only fosters coral growth but also contributes to the restoration of these vital habitats. Through the Coral Cube initiative, guests will apply innovative techniques like using fast plug cement to build thriving underwater ecosystems. The Baros marine team will share bi-annual updates with the guests so that they can follow the growth of their corals.

Marine Life Identification: This educational session equips guests with the knowledge to identify different fish species and understand their vital roles within the marine ecosystem. Equipped with snorkelling gear and new insights, guests will explore Baros’s world- class house reef during a snorkelling tour, guided by the resident marine biologist, to witness the vibrant marine life.

Night Snorkelling and Bioluminescence: As night falls, the reef reveals a different kind of beauty. With UV lights, guests will explore this nocturnal wonderland, observing the reef’s inhabitants in a new light. This magical experience is not only enchanting but also educational, offering insights into coral health and the ecosystem’s delicate balance.

Baros recognises the fragility of the marine environment and is committed to fostering sustainable tourism practices. The Eco Explorer Experience is more than a holiday activity, it’s an invitation to become part of a larger movement, advocating for the protection and preservation of our marine environments.

Join the Baros marine team on this extraordinary journey. Together, dive deeper, explore further, and unveil the boundless wonders of the ocean, ensuring they remain vibrant for generations to come.

For bookings and more information, please visit www.baros.com or contact Baros directly at reservations@baros.com or call +960 664 26 72.

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