Liverpool are back on the summit of the English Premier League after Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah inspired them to a 2-0 victory over Chelsea at Anfield. Going into the clash, the Reds’ drive towards the title meant they needed the win more than their London visitors, but a Manchester City 3-1 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park – that pushed the hosts to the second spot – meant they headed into the match the more pressured side. After a cagey first half that saw the duo unable to convert half chances; one which they took turns to create, they sparked to live after the interval within two second-half minutes, with Salah’s piledriver sealing his former employers’ defeat.
Mane header at the back post, off a perfect Roberto Firmino cross, put Jurgen Klopp’s men in front in the 51st minute before Salah rifled in a long-range effort to the top left corner to double their lead two minutes later. Chelsea, through Eden Hazard, had two chances to half their deficit but the woodwork and Alisson respectively stood in their way.
Mane, who was the Premier League Player of the Month for March, continues his rich vein of form while Salah would be glad with his return to form as his goal makes it two in as much outings since his eight-game goal drought. Guinea midfielder Naby Keita continued his impressive form in the Reds’ midfield and was excused after the hour mark. Liverpool are now two points better than second-placed City  who have a game in hand and will hope to keep up with the mo-
Ex-Nigerian youth international, Philip Osundu, is dead
Former Nigeria youth international Philip Osondu has died
Osondu’s death was confirmed by a family friend who is based in Belgium where the player has been residing since retiring from football.
According to the family friend, Philip Osondu died on Friday morning as he felt unwell at work and was rushed to the hospital where he died.
At Canada’87 Nigeria reached the final of the FIFA U17 World Cup, but then lost on penalties to the then Soviet Union.
Osondu was, however, voted Best Player of the tournament.
Two years later he also participated in the U-20 World Cup in Saudi Arabia, where the Flying Eagles also made it to the final before losing to Portugal.
Philip Osondu played in for El Kanemi Warriors when RSC Anderlecht bought him to Belgium in 1988. The attacker was seen as an emerging football talent and was transferred to Anderlecht that was a promising team.
A year later, the 18-year-old striker made his debut at the highest level in an away match against Germinal Ekeren in 1989 playing under Coach Aad de Mos. However, there was a lot of competition at Anderlecht with players like Luc Nilis, Luis Oliveira, Marc Van Der Linden and Gert Verheyen which made Osondu stifled his appearance for the first team.
Between 1990 and 1992 the Nigerian was also loaned to neighbours RWDM.
In 1994 Osondu moved to second division club La Louviere, where the small and technically gifted striker scored five times in 20 matches.
A season later he swapped La Louviere during the winter break for Union Saint Gillis, where he completed the rest of the season. Afterwards he played several years for Diegem Sport and FC Merchtem 2000.
Osondu, who was regarded as a great talent and also received high praise as a youth international, however, never really fulfilled his potential in Belgium. He is often cited as one of many young Africans who went abroad too early.
He was born on November 28, 1971 in Aba, Abia State
Klopp extends Liverpool contract to 2024
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp has agreed a contract extension until 2024, the Premier League club announced on Friday.
Former Borussia Dortmund manager Klopp took the reins at Liverpool in October 2015 and guided them to back-to-back Champions League finals in 2018 and 2019, winning their sixth European cup last season, reports Reuters.
“For me personally this is a statement of intent, one which is built on my knowledge of what we as a partnership have achieved so far and what is still there for us to achieve,” Klopp said in a statement on the club’s website here
“When the call (to manage Liverpool) came in autumn 2015, I felt we were perfect for each other. If anything, now I feel I underestimated that.
“It is only with a total belief that the collaboration remains totally complementary on both sides that I am able to make this commitment to 2024.”
The club said the German manager’s assistants Peter Krawietz and Pep Lijnders had also agreed new deals.
Klopp took Liverpool to the brink of their first ever Premier League title last season, finishing a point behind champions Manchester City.
This season, they are well poised to end their 30-year wait for a top flight league title after going unbeaten in the first 16 games, with an eight-point lead over second-placed Leicester City.
Europa League: Big wins for United, Wolves; Arsenal fight back for draw
Mason Greenwood had a night to remember as Manchester United dismantled AZ Alkmaar’s challenge with a barrage of second-half goals. The 18-year-old striker scored two of them and won a penalty for another as Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side cantered to victory in their final Europa League group game.
“The lad’s a natural finisher, he’s always done it,” the United manager said. “He’s good with both feet and always composed. He probably just needs to develop his heading. Seriously, though, to change nine players and still win so comfortably is a great credit to the players.”
For 45 tortuous minutes such a free‑scoring spectacle had appeared the last thing the evening might produce but once United broke the deadlock their opponents capitulated alarmingly and Solskjær’s experimental selection was fully justified. The United manager can do no wrong at the moment and, though at first this encounter looked as though it might interrupt his sequence of wins, it ended up the most emphatic of his three in a row, reports The Guardian.
All the more surprising because the first half, at least, had been firmly at the tepid end of the European spectrum, with barely enough entertainment or excitement to warm spectators who had braved the cold and rain.
United spent the first few minutes trying to convince their opponents they were relaxed enough to pass the ball around in their own penalty area, mostly without success. Ashley Young was lucky to get away with one turn too many in front of his own goal and on a couple of occasions the reserve goalkeeper, Sergio Romero, looked less than comfortable with the ball at his feet.
At the Molineux, Diogo Jota sprang from the bench to score a hat-trick in 12 second-half minutes and ensure Wolves finished their Europa League group campaign in style. Leander Dendoncker also scored as Nuno Espírito Santo’s men blew Besiktas away with a powerful second-half performance.
That was not enough to leapfrog Braga at the top of the group but Wolves’ ability to play like this even after resting several regular starters is one of the reasons why they can be confident of advancing further in this competition no matter whom they are pitted against in Monday’s draw for the last 32.
As group runners-up, their potential opponents include Internazionale, Ajax, Red Bull Salzburg and Celtic. There are more exciting times ahead at Molineux.
After a goalless first half, and with Braga being held in Bratislava, there was still a chance of Wolves finishing top of their group and earning a notionally easier and less glamorous tie in the next round. They chased that prospect with gusto and romped to victory; but so did Braga in their game, meaning the Portuguese side retained top spot. Beating Wolves here in the first group match turned out to have been the group’s critical clash.
In the early kick off, exactly how this became a successful evening for Arsenal will remain a mystery but Freddie Ljungberg may consider that, at this point in his young managerial career, there is no need to apologise for a stroke of good fortune.
Two goals in three minutes late in the second half, the excellent Bukayo Saka setting up the first for Alexandre Lacazette and then scoring a classy equaliser, pegged back Standard Liège and rescued a scrappy display but the most important turning point came elsewhere. Had Vitória Guimarães not contrived an improbable late turnaround at Eintracht Frankfurt, Ljungberg’s side would have finished second in Group F and be confronted with the possibility of facing, among others, Internazionale or Ajax in the last 32. Instead they are group winners and will face a softer set of options, although their performances will need to improve markedly if further complications are not to arise.
At least they never looked remotely like falling to the five-goal defeat that would have ended their interest in the competition. Not even this side is capable of a capitulation that dramatic although there was a brief spell in the second half when Standard Liège, ahead through two deflected goals and threatening more, could have made the final stages distinctly awkward.
Vemp Tennis Open: Sylvester, Oyinlomo ‘re favourites
Last year’s runner-up, Joseph Imeh comfortably took out Gabriel Friday in straight sets to reach the semifinals of the Vemp Open in Abuja yesterday.
The 22-year-old No. 2 wrapped up a fine 6-3, 6-0 victory for a spot in the last four, where he will take on Emmanuel Idoko, who proved decisive in a second set tiebreaker to claim a 6-2, 7-6(4) victory over Uche Oparaoji.
Imeh and Idoko’s semifinal meeting will be a repeat of the pair’s semifinal encounter at the Rainoil Open in Lagos last week, which Imeh won.
Elsewhere, Defending champion, Sylvester Emmanuel advanced to the semifinals after Lawal Shehu retired due to injury midway through the first set. Shehu, 34, had led 3-1 before calling it quits.
Emmanuel, who won the Rainoil Open title a week ago and will be looking to secure a second straight national title this week, will next face Nonso Madueke, who produced a strong performance to beat 17-year-old Musa Mohammed 6-2, 6-3.
Meanwhile Nigeria’s current number one female player, Oyinlomo Quadre didn’t break a sweat in a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Toyin Asogba to qualify for the semifinal.
Oyinlomo who is playing in the tournament for the first time is top favourite for the female title going by her recent performance.
Defending champion, Blessing Samuel who claimed her second win in as many weeks over Osariemen Airhunwhunde may find Oyinlomo a hard nut to crack in the bid to retain her title.
The championship is staged by the Nigeria Tennis Federation NTF.
Rohr eyes Eagles’ recall for Maja
Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr is impressed by the versatility of Bordeaux young star Josh Maja, saying the former Sunderland striker is capable of playing in three offensive positions.
Maja became the latest dual-eligible outfield player to be handed an international debut by the German football tactician when he replaced Victor Osimhen in the closing minutes of Nigeria’s 2-2 draw with Ukraine in September.
Since October 1, the Bordeaux number 9 has been the most decisive Nigerian player in Europe’s top five leagues, contributing to six goals (four goals, two assists) in eight matches, including a hat-trick against Nimes.
”He was on our list of players to watch, he was already attracting our attention, although he was only playing in League One, because our scouts were studying him closely from England ….,” said Rohr to So Foot.
”This is not a chance, he seized his chance with the various injuries of his teammates, and his hat-trick is part of the progression he displays.”
Rohr went on to reveal the role played by another Nigeria international Samuel Kalu in helping Maja settle at Bordeaux, having joined the club in January 2019.
”And when he arrived in Bordeaux, he was not alone: there was another Nigerian, Samuel Kalu. So his integration, carried out in good working conditions and surrounded by a good staff, was facilitated.
”It could only move in the right direction. Above all he is quite versatile, on the offensive side: he can play at the three front positions, in a system with two or three attackers.”
GOtv Boxing Night 20 Brings WBF heavyweight title bout to Nigeria
The 20th edition of GOtv Boxing Night (GOtv Boxing Night 20) will be headlined by a World Boxing Federation (WBF) Intercontinental heavyweight title bout between US-based Nigerian, Onoriode “Godzilla” Ehwarieme, and Argentina’s Ariel “Chiquito” Baracamonte. This was announced in Lagos yesterday at a press conference addressed by the organisers, Flykite Productions. The bout is one of the nine scheduled for the show slated to hold on 28 December at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos.
Jenkins Alumona, CEO of Flykite Productions, explained that the bout, which is the biggest to be staged on Nigerian soil in decades, is a part-fulfilment of the promise to host world-class bouts at the show.
“Nigeria has not hosted a bout of this profile in decades. We made a promise to put Nigeria back on the global boxing map and we are happy to see the promise come to fruition. We believe this bout provides an indication of the return to health of Nigerian boxing since GOtv launched an intervention to revive the sport which, long before 2014, was in coma,” said Alumona.
He disclosed that the nine-bout event will also feature live musical performances by Zlatan Ibile, Mayorkun and Oritsefemi among others.
In addition to the headline clash, fights lined up include the West African Boxing Union (WABU) lightweight title defence by Rilwan “Real One” Oladosu, who takes on Ghana’s Ezekiel Anan; WABU welterweight title defence by Rilwan “Baby Face” Babatunde against Ghana’s Sanitor Agbenyo; national featherweight challenge clash between Taiwo “Esepo” Agbaje and Olusegun Moses; as well as national super featherweight duel between Ridwan “Scorpion” Oyekola and Sikiru “Omo Iya Eleja” Shogbesan.
Also in action are Adewale “Masevex” Masebinu, who takes on Olanrewaju Segun; Adeyemi “Sense” Opeyemi, who fights Sadiq Adeleke; Alaba Omotola, who takes on Bolaji Abdullahi; and rising female ring artist, Cynthia “Boby Girl” Ogunsemilore, who faces Aminat Yekini. The best boxer at the show will win a cash prize of N1million attached to the Mojisola Ogunsanya Memorial Trophy.
Olympic Games: Gumel urges federations to source for funds
Nigeria Olympic Committee NOC President, Habu Gumel, has urged the National Sports Federation Presidents to go all out and source for funds to support the athletes representing the country at next year’s Olympic Games in Japan.
He said this during the Annual General Meeting of the NOC which took place in Abuja yesterday.
Gumel told the Federation Presidents that they should not leave the government to do the funding alone.
“Government cannot do it alone, I am ready to follow you to any corporate organisations or philanthropists who will be of assistance including the office of President Mohammadu Buhari,” he said.
The NOC President said he was excited that the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, has set the ball rolling by the Adopt An Athlete Campaign that will be launched in Lagos next week.
“The Minister will through the launching woo Captain of Industries, philanthropists, corporate organisations and multinationals to come forward and identify with an athlete,” he added.
The NOC boss disclosed that 14 Nigerian athletes would enjoy scholarship and sponsorship to next year’s Japan Olympics.
Gumel said that the athletes benefiting from the scholarship would also enjoy lodging costs and travel to Olympic qualification competitions.
“These 14 athletes will be carefully selected out of the numerous applications from Nigerian athletes home and abroad,” Gumel added.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Minister of Sports represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Adesola Olusade, said the Ministry was ready to establish a good working relationship with the NOC towards ensuring a good outing at the Japan 2020 Games.
Olusade disclosed that the preparation will enter top gear as the minister will inaugurate the 2020 Ministerial Olympic Committee that will be saddled with the preparation of athletes in a matter of days.
Court dismisses 2014 suit challenging legitimacy of LMC
Hon. Justice Demi Ajayi of the Federal High Court in Benin City, on Monday, December 9, 2019 affirmed that the incorporation of the League Management Company Limited was validly registered under the laws of Nigeria.
Delivering judgment in Suit No. FHC/B/CS/93/14 filed by veteran Journalist, Ben Lawrence in 2014, Hon. Justice Ajayi struck out the suit against the LMC and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) challenging the legality of the registration of the LMC which had been incorporated in 2013 for the participating football clubs of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
The Court further declared that the plaintiff, Ben Lawrence, had no locus in the first instance to institute the suit against the incorporation of LMC under the companies law and, thus, was a busybody and an interloper.
Shehu Dikko, the Chairman of LMC while expressing satisfaction with the judgment, commended the Court for upholding the truth and justice in the matter.
He, also lamented the huge cost in time and other resources brought upon LMC by the suit suit which he described as “frivolous and totally baseless suit filed by the plaintiff and supported by those who desired merely to derail the well-ordered and legal administration of the apex football league in Nigeria”.
“They did this in the hope of ultimately profiting from the expected disorder”,lamented Dikko and recalled that the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, had similarly struck out an earlier suit filed in 2013 to also challenge the incorporation of LMC during the tenure of his predecessor in office, Hon. Nduka Irabor.
Also, Ifeanyi Egwasi Esq of Chief Akin Olujinmi, SAN & Co, representing the LMC, commended the Court for the judgment restating the legal status of LMC, which he said has never been in doubt whatsoever.
Counsel to the plaintiff, O.A.K Osinowo Esq, indicated his client’s intention to appeal against the judgement delivered against his client.
The five years legal battle had seen the parties fight their way up to the Court of Appeal and back again to the Federal High Court before final judgement was delivered on Monday.
AFN rejects NOC’s probe panel
Brown Ebewele,a board member of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN), says the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) lacks the power to set up a committee to look into a perceived crisis in the federation.
The NOC on Wednesday at its board meeting in Abuja says it has set up a four-man investigative panel to mediate in the crisis rocking the AFN.
‘The NOC does not have the power to interfere in the internal affairs of the AFN,”said Ebewele,who was once the technical committee chairman of the federation.
“What the NOC is doing is trying to assert an authority that does not exist because the body thinks Nigerians are naive and ignorant of the rules governing international sports.”
‘The AFN, for the avoidance of doubt, is only answerable to its parent body, World Athletics (formerly the International Association of Athletics Federations) which is aware of developments in the federation,’added Ebewele who querried NOC’s motive behind the so- called investigative panel.
‘We have set up a fact finding panel to look into the infractions committed by the suspended president of the federation,Shehu Ibrahim Gusau and there is no going back,’Ebewele insists and recalled a similar ploy employed by the NOC in June this year.
‘In June this year,the NOC deceived us with a re-conciliatory meeting where an agreement was reached inter-alia that the committees of the board should be reconstituted forthwith;decisions of the board should at all times be approved as specified in the constitution of the AFN and that due process should be followed in the administration and management of resources of the board.
‘But what did we get? Gusau flouted all the agreements and the sixth and final agreement says sanctions as provided in the constitution of the AFN shall be invoked in the event of a breach of the resolutions.Gusau has breached all the resolutions and the board has taken appropriate steps in line with the AFN constitution.”
Ebewele revealed that the June agreement was signed by all 10 board members who attended the meeting and the NOC president,Habu Gumel and Mr Olusade Adesola,the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development’s Permanent Secretary.
Ikoyi Club smashers file out for honours in Accra
The international tennis contest between the Ikoyi Club players and their host, Accra Lawn Tennis Club continues today at the tennis courts of the Ghanaian club.
Rita Nwanye and Aminat Lawal are the female players expected to be in action this evening in Accra.
Also, Adedayo Shobitan, Obafemi Olugbenga, Chinedu Okwuosa, Bola Ayorinde, Hilary Eledu and Effiong Ejehiwease will also be on duty in the male cadre of the international tennis fiesta.
Chairman of Ikoyi Club 1938, Bimbo Okubena, explained that the Ghana trip was sponsored by Zenith Bank, Rainoil Ltd. Air Peace, Chief Mike Nwokoni and the members of Ikoyi Club Tennis Section.
“We are truly having fun since we arrived here Thursday morning. We expect great results and also expect to have good exchange of ideas with our friends here in Ghana,”Okubena said.
Ikoyi Club will feature in the Men’s A and B singles events, the Ladies singles, Veterans and Super Veterans events
The International tournament which took place last year in Nairobi, Kenya is aimed at fostering bilateral business relationship within the ECOWAS region.
The tournament ends on Sunday.
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