March 12, 2015 / 1:06 AM / 3 years ago

Reuters Sports Schedule at 0001 GMT on Thursday, March 12

Reuters sports schedule at 0001 GMT on Thursday:

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World Cup

South Africa v UAE, Wellington (0100)

Proteas likely to be full strength in order to qualify

WELLINGTON - South Africa, having still not qualified for the quarter-finals after two defeats in pool play, are likely to be at full strength and will not hold back against associate nation United Arab Emirates at Wellington Regional Stadium. (CRICKET-WORLD/SA-UAE (PIX), expect from 0100 GMT/8 PM ET, by Greg Stutchbury, 400 words)

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‘Awesome’ Mercedes launch dynasty bid in Australia

MELBOURNE - Brimful of confidence after successful pre-season testing, Mercedes’ bid to build a Formula One dynasty kicks off at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix this week, with world champion Lewis Hamilton hungry for a third title.(MOTOR RACING-PRIX/ (PREVIEW), moved, by Ian Ransom, 400 words)

Also moved, factbox with statistics on the Australian race.

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Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne (15)

Leading F1 drivers jostle for position at Albert Park

MELBOURNE - Four-times champion Sebastian Vettel will talk of his hopes for a flying start with new team Ferrari, when leading F1 drivers face the media ahead of the season-opening race at Albert Park. (MOTOR RACING-PRIX/ (PIX), expect by 0300 GMT/10 AM ET, by Ian Ransom, 400 words)

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Mayweather, Pacquiao discuss Vegas mega-bout

LOS ANGELES - After five years of bickering, posturing, and false alarms, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao are face-to-face and ready to do real fighting. (BOXING-MAYWEATHER/ (PIX, TV), moved, by Jahmal Corner, 400 words)

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Serena’s U-turn on Indian Wells praised by peers

INDIAN WELLS, California - Serena Williams’ decision to end a 14-year boycott of the BNP Paribas Open has been warmly welcomed by her peers with her good friend and rival Caroline Wozniacki saying it was “great for tennis”. (TENNIS-INDIAN/ (PIX), moved, by Mark Lamport-Stokes, 400 words)

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Thunder shoot for eighth consecutive home win

Russell Westbrook looks to lead the Oklahoma City Thunder to a season-high eighth consecutive home victory when they host the Los Angeles Clippers in one of the 10 games on the National Basketball Association schedule. (NBA-HIGHLIGHTS/, expect by 0330 GMT/11:30 PM ET, 650 words)

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Capitals host division rival Rangers

Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals host the division rival New York Rangers in one of the three games on the National Hockey League schedule. (NHL-HIGHLIGHTS/, expect by 0330 GMT/11:30 PM ET, 400 words)

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NORTH AMERICAN SPORTS Roundups of off-field developments in the major North American professional sports leagues. (expect by 0000 GMT/8:00 PM ET, by The Sports Xchange, 400 words)

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Europa League

Coaches face former clubs in Europa League last 16

LONDON - Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella will return to former club AS Roma in an all-Italian clash and Villarreal boss Marcelino will host his former team Sevilla in the Europa League’s last 16. (SOCCER-EUROPA/, expect first take by 2000 GMT/3 PM ET, 600 words)

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La Liga

Barca looking to up the pressure on second-placed Real

MADRID - With second-placed Real Madrid not playing at home to Levante until Sunday, new leaders Barcelona can put pressure on their arch rivals and open up a four-point lead at the top of La Liga with a win at Eibar on Saturday. (SOCCER-SPAIN/ (PREVIEW), expect by 1100 GMT/6 AM ET, by Iain Rogers, 400 words)

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Premier League

Man United face crunch test against Spurs

LONDON - Out of the FA Cup and with Champions League qualification hanging in the balance, Manchester United’s season reaches a pivotal stage in the Premier League on Sunday at home to Tottenham Hotspur. (SOCCER-ENGLAND/ (PREVIEW), moving at 0200 GMT/9 PM ET, by Michael Hann, 400 words)

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Libertadores Cup group stage

Copy on merit

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Six Nations

France name team to face Italy

PARIS - Head coach Philippe Saint-Andre names his team to face Italy as France look to revive their campaign (RUGBY-NATIONS/FRANCE, by 1100 GMT/6 AM ET, 250 words)

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Cheltenham Festival (to 13)

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Paris-Nice, France (to 15)

Tirreno-Adriatico, Italy (to 17)

Copy on merit

- - - - (Desk editor: Nick Mulvenney)

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