Cancer-stricken coach on bench but Bologna held by Verona - GulfToday

Cancer-stricken coach on bench but Bologna held by Verona


Bologna coach Sinisa Mihajlovic during his side’s Italian League match against Verona in Verona on Sunday. Associated Press

A cap on his head and wearing a Bologna shirt, coach Sinisa Mihajlovic courageously joined his players for their Serie A opener in Verona on Sunday despite undergoing treatment for leukaemia.

It was a personal victory for the Serb, but the match ended 1-1 with Bologna settling for a point despite promoted Verona finishing the match with ten men.

Mihajlovic was diagnosed with “acute leukaemia” six weeks ago but the 50-year-old has continued working as Bologna coach.

His presence at the game in Verona has come as a surprise as he has been hospitalised in Bologna for the past month undergoing treatment.

It had initially been reported he was set to follow the match from a special box in the stands in Verona.

But when all the players took the pitch, Mihajlovic came in, without the mask covering his mouth he had been wearing in the afternoon when he left the hospital.

His face was gaunt and thinner following weeks of treatment.

“We were shocked, we didn’t expect it, even though he had promised us,” midfielder Andrea Poli told sports broadcaster DAZN.

“We were impressed, but we are happy that he is here with us, he shows an exceptional courage. We were excited when he arrived at the hotel.”

“Warriors recognise each other from afar. My love,” his wife Arianna Rapaccioni wrote on social media.

Nicola Sansone converted a penalty for Bologna after 15 minutes just after Verona defender Pawel Dawidowicz was sent off.

But a Miguel Veloso free kick put 10-man Verona, returning to Serie A after a one-year absence, back level after 37 minutes.

AC Milan stumbled at the first hurdle with a 1-0 loss at Udinese with fellow European hopefuls Roma held 3-3 at Genoa.

Genoa fought back despite Cengiz Under scoring after just six minutes for the hosts with Edin Dzeko and a superb Aleksandar Kolarov free-kick also giving Roma the advantage.

Striker Andrea Pinamonti pulled Genoa level with a Domenico Criscito penalty and a Christian Kouame goal on 70 minutes giving the visitors a point.

City rivals Lazio came away 3-0 winners from Sampdoria thanks to a Ciro Immobile double in either half, bringing his tally to 101 goals in Serie A.

Atalanta -- in the Champions League after finishing third last season -- won 3-2 at SPAL with Luis Muriel scoring a second-half brace.

Agence France-Presse

Italian League results on Sunday:

Udinese 1 (Rodrigo 72) AC Milan 0; Verona 1 (Veloso 37) Bologna 1 (Sansone 15-pen); Cagliari 0 Brescia 1 (Donnarumma 54-pen); Roma 3 (Under 6, Dzeko 30, Kolarov 49) Genoa 3 (Pinamonti 16, Criscito 42-pen, Kouamé 70); Sampdoria 0 Lazio 3 (Immobile 37, 62, Correa 56); SPAL 2 (Di Francesco 6, Petagna 26) Atalanta 3 (Gosens 34, Muriel 70, 76); Torino 2 (Zaza 14, 55) Sassuolo 1 (Caputo 69)

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