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Fiji Time: 2:28 PM on Friday 25 April

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BRIEFLY

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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Pre-Cup match

SYDNEY - The Socceroos are set to play Croatia in a friendly match in Brazil just a week before their opening World Cup clash.

The Croatian Football Federation announced the June 6 fixture on its official website yesterday, with the host city and venue yet to be confirmed.

Third round

MELBOURNE - Defending Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka has booked a place in the third round with a hard-fought win over Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

Azarenka, the second seed, overcame the world No.84 6-1 6-4 in a match that was a lot tighter than the scoreline indicated.

Warm-up

CHICAGO, Illinois - Americans hoping to make the World Cup squad will have a crucial showcase match at Ukraine on March 5 to show what they can do, US coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced on Thursday.

The friendly falls on the only international fixture date ahead of the May selection of the US lineup for the global football showdown in Brazil starting in June.

Friendly games

LONDON - England will play Peru, Ecuador and Honduras in a trio of friendly matches prior to this year's World Cup in Brazil, the Football Association confirmed on Thursday.

England were drawn against Uruguay and Costa Rica, as well as Italy, in their World Cup group, leading manager Roy Hodgson to prioritise pre-tournament friendlies against Central and South American nations.

Mel confident

LONDON - West Bromwich Albion's new head coach Pepe Mel announced his arrival at the English Premier League club by insisting his team will avoid relegation and then challenge for a place in Europe.

Mel was appointed as successor to the sacked Steve Clarke last week and the 50-year-old Spaniard outlined his plans for the Baggies at his first media conference on Thursday.

Dope hearing

KINGSTON - Asafa Powell's manager told a Jamaican anti-doping hearing on Wednesday that the man they hired to treat the former world 100-metre champion was not a certified physical therapist.

Powell, 31, tested positive at the Jamaican national championships in June for the banned stimulant oxilofrine.

Spanish last 8

MADRID - Real Madrid secured their place in the quarter-finals of Spanish soccer's Copa del Rey with a 2-0 win away to Osasuna on Wednesday to progress 4-0 on aggregate.

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrated winning his second Ballon d'Or this week with the opening goal, but he had Andres Fernandez to thank as the Osasuna 'keeper parried the Portuguese's long-range free-kick through his own legs and into the net.

Mariners threat

SYDNEY - The Central Coast might have a depleted strike force but Sydney FC goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic knows his job won't be any easier when he faces the defending A-League champions on Saturday.

With Michael McGlinchey gone to Japan, the Mariners were dealt another blow with playmaker Marcos Flores suffering a season-ending injury last week.