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Hazard will make the difference at Real – Courtois

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Eden Hazard will make the difference at Real Madrid and help lead the LaLiga giants to many titles next season, according to Thibaut Courtois.
Hazard joined Madrid from Premier League side Chelsea on a five-year deal on Friday for a fee that could reportedly rise to €140million.

The Belgium international attacker won two Premier League titles and as many Europa League crowns during his time at Chelsea, where he played alongside Courtois before the star goalkeeper left for Madrid in 2018-19.

And Courtois – whose first season in Madrid resulted in a third-place finish in LaLiga – is expecting big things from Hazard at the Santiago Bernabeu.

“If he speaks a little Spanish, it will be even better,” Courtois said following Belgium’s 3-0 Euro 2020 qualifying win over Kazakhstan on Saturday.

“It’s very nice that we’re going to be together. He’s my friend, I get along very well with him and his family.

“For Madrid it’s going to be fantastic. I think [Hazard] is going to make the difference and I hope we can win many titles next season.”

Belgium team-mate and Napoli forward Dries Mertens also praised Hazard following his move to Madrid.

“I’m happy for him, it’s a good step forward,” Mertens, who scored against Kazakhstan, said post-match. “He’s already one of the best players in the world, and now he has to take advantage of his opportunities to become the best of all.”

Hazard – who led Chelsea to Europa League glory this season – is the fourth new arrival at Zinedine Zidane’s Madrid ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.

 

The 28-year-old follows Eder Militao, Luka Jovic and Rodrygo Goes to the Spanish capital club, with Madrid also reportedly eyeing Lyon full-back Ferland Mendy, Manchester United star Paul Pogba and Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar.

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Sports

Ronaldo: I deserve more Ballon d’Or awards than Messi

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Ronaldo: I deserve more Ballon d’Or awards than Messi

Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo said he deserves to end his soccer career with more Ballon d’Or awards than Barcelona counterpart Lionel Messi and hopes to establish himself as the greatest player of all time.

Ronaldo, 34, has won the renowned France Football magazine trophy for the world’s best player five times – as many as Messi – but is eager for more as he moves into the twilight of his career.

“Messi’s in the history of football,” Ronaldo told broadcaster Piers Morgan in an interview with Britain’s ITV on Tuesday. “But I think I have to have six or seven or eight to be above him,” he said, referring to the Ballon d’Or awards.

“I’d love it, I think I deserve it.”

The Portugal captain said he was no friend of the Argentine but credited his rival for helping push him further in his own career, reports Reuters.

“My relationship with him is, we are not friends, but we have shared this stage for 15 years,” Ronaldo said. “I know that he has pushed me to be a better player and I have pushed him to be a better player as well.”

Ronaldo, who also played for Manchester United and Real Madrid, has five UEFA Champions League winners’ medals and led Portugal to victory at the 2016 UEFA European Championship and 2019 UEFA Nations League tournaments.

“I don’t follow the records, the records follow me. I’m addicted to the success, and I don’t think it’s something bad, I think it’s good,” Ronaldo said.

“It motivates me. If you’re not motivated, it’s better to stop.”

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Wrestling: Nigeria’s Adekuoroye qualifies for Tokyo 2020

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Wrestling: Nigeria’s Adekuoroye qualifies for Tokyo 2020

Nigeria’s Odunayo Adekuoroye (57kg) is through to the semi finals of the 2019 Senior World Wrestling Championships in Kazakhstan after dismantling In Sun Jong of North Korea 12-2 via technical superiority.

She has qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as a result.

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Chelsea to assess Mount injury over next 48 hours

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Chelsea to assess Mount injury over next 48 hours

Chelsea must wait up to 48 hours to discover the extent of the injury that forced Mason Mount off early in their Champions League defeat by Valencia.

Manager Frank Lampard has confirmed Mount, 20, suffered an ankle injury in a challenge with Francis Coquelin.

The midfielder has started all five of Chelsea’s Premier League games and made his England debut earlier this month.

“We have to assess it over the next 24-48 hours to see the scale of the injury,” said Lampard.

“We don’t know how bad it is. It is an ankle injury and it is a shame. He’s been playing so well and he started well tonight.”

Mount signed a new five-year contract in July and made his first-team debut for Chelsea on the opening day of the season, reports the BBC.

He has gone on to score three goals from five Premier League starts, appearing as a substitute in the Blues’ Super Cup defeat by Liverpool before his Champions League debut against Valencia.

Former Derby boss Lampard had Mount on loan at the Championship side last season, with the youngster scoring 11 goals in 44 games in all competitions.

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Friendlies: NFF confirms Brazil for Eagles, targets more

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Friendlies:  NFF confirms Brazil for Eagles, targets more

 

 

T

he Nigeria Football Federation has announced an international friendly game for the Super Eagles against the Brazilian national team scheduled to take place in Singapore on Sunday October 13th.

 

 

There has been no competitive tie between both countries’ senior teams since the memorable U-23 victory Nigeria recorded in Georgia, and next month’s session will test the character of the African champions who are somewhat building a new team after a rash of retirements and injuries to key players.

 

 

That newbreed Eagles came close to shocking Ukraine in a friendly match in Dnipro a week ago, before bungling a two-goal lead to stalemate at 2-2.

 

 

Speaking about the friendly game, the NFF General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, said it was a great thing sealing the game against Brazil.

 

He however revealed that they are looking for some other African countries to play against as they continue to build a strong team for the country.

 

“We are happy to have sealed this encounter against the five-time champions of the world, Brazil,” Sanusi said. “It is not everyday that you get to Brazil, and I think it is very good for our young team.

 

“The Nigeria Football Federation must also commend Eurodata Sport, our FIFA –licensed Match Agent, for pulling this off.

 

 

“Having said that, the focus now is on getting an African team for the Super Eagles as a second match for the FIFA window in October, ahead of their 2021 AFCON qualifying matches in November.”

 

 

The Super Eagles have two 2021 AFCON qualifying dates in November. After hosting the Squirrels of Benin Republic on November 14, they will fly to Maseru for a Day Two encounter with the Crocodiles of Lesotho on November 19.

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CHAN: NFF bows to pressure as Amapakabo leads Eagles to Lome

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CHAN: NFF bows to pressure as Amapakabo leads Eagles to Lome

A

fter the uproar that greeted the return of the erstwhile coach of the Super Eagles home-based team, Salisu Yusuf, the Nigeria Football Federation has bowed to pressure from football stakeholders as they announced that the U-23 coach, Imama Amapakabo, will be leading the team to Lome for the 2020 African Nations Championship qualifying fixture against the Sparrow Hawks coming up on Sunday.

 

 

There were insinuations in some quarters that Yusuf would be resuming his job as the coach of CHAN Eagles while also taking up the position as the head coach of the U-23, but the recent announcement has put paid to that suspicion.

 

 

In a release by the NFF on Tuesday, Amapakabo, head coach of the U-23 National Team, will be in charge of the team for the battle of Lome.

 

As a way of preparing the U-23 boys for the third U-23 Africa Cup of Nations finals holding in Egypt from November 8 to 22 (for which the team qualified after defeating Libya and Sudan in qualifiers), the NFF has decided that the U-23 squad, without the overseas-based professionals but with a number of home –based Trojans added, prosecute the CHAN qualifying fixture.

 

Amapakabo’s charges have another ample pre-AFCON preparatory platform awaiting at the 2nd WAFU Cup of Nations, holding in Thies, Senegal as from September 28.

 

The Federation Togolese de Football (FTF) has scheduled Sunday’s encounter for the Stade de Kegue in the country’s capital city, starting from 4pm.

Also, the Confederation of African Football has selected officials from Benin Republic to superintend the match, with Adissa Abdou Raphiou Ligali as the referee.

 

 

Nigeria finished as runners-up of the last edition of the African Nations Championship held in Morocco early last year, having also picked up the bronze medals in South Africa in 2014.

Cameroon will host the 6th CHAN in June 2020.

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Sports

Tammy Abraham highlights case for Super Eagles ‘imports’

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Tammy Abraham highlights case for Super Eagles ‘imports’

T

he recent surge in form of Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham has revived an old debate in Nigerian  football.

The football fraternity is divided between those who feel the Nigeria Football Federation should do everything possible to get foreign-born Nigerian footballers to switch allegiance and those who believe these players are not worth the trouble.

 

Abraham once turned Nigeria down and it all went quiet. But the young striker is back in the headlines after his stunning start to the new Premier League campaign where he is currently top scorer with seven goals in five games.

Now, after unequivocally rejecting Nigeria’s advances back in 2017 with a spot in the Russia 2018 squad almost guaranteed, Abrahami has said he is open to a Super Eagles switch.

 

The NFF has reportedly made a fresh approach while England manager Gareth Southgate is considering giving the 21-year-old (he will be 22 on 2 October) another shot at the senior squad.

 

When he first rejected Nigeria two years ago, Abraham rode on the back of good form, while on loan at Swansea, to win two England caps in friendly games against Germany and Brazil. But he was soon back in the U-21s and was not anywhere near the senior squad for the Russia 2018 World Cup.

 

I’m sure he will have that at the back of his mind as he considers his options once more. If he plumps for England, would they stick with him when he inevitably hits a rough patch?

 

Besides, even if he keeps this form up, which is highly improbable, it would take an injury to Harry Kane and a severe loss of form for Marcus Rashford before Abraham starts as England’s No.9 in an important match.

 

He is at least third in the England pecking order and he still has Callum Wilson to contend with. Abraham’s only real competition in the Super Eagles, following Odion Ighalo’s retirement, would be Victor Osimhen at the moment.

 

There is a strong case for him to choose Nigeria but he really has to want to play for his country of heritage.

My take has always been that it does not matter where a player was born or where he grew up, so long as he has Nigerian blood, has special talent and is WILLING to play for the country, we should give him a shot.

 

It is important that we do not have to go down on our knees before an athlete with Nigerian blood agrees to wear our colours. We should present our case, make him a good offer; if he accepts great, if not we move on. No hard feelings.

 

Even when Nigeria is second choice to a player, he has to make a quick decision on his allegiance when he is still in his prime. Because, if we’re being honest, very few players would opt for Nigeria over England, Germany and the like.

 

Fortunately for Nigeria, the country has benefited greatly in recent years from players with dual nationality. While it was a trickle 20, 30 years ago with the likes of Reuben Agboola and George Abbey coming along every few years, it has been an absolute deluge in recent years.

 

In the last seven years alone, Nigeria has had so many overseas-born or raised players that they could almost form a Super Eagles XI.

 

Led by Victor Moses, there have been Leon Balogun, Alex Iwobi, William Troost-Ekong, Ola Aina, Tyrone Ebuehi and Carl Ikeme.

Every single one of them has contributed positively to the team, Moses vital in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations triumph while Balogun, Iwobi and Troost-Ekong were practically indispensable during the qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup. Ikeme was so good he is still being missed two years after his enforced, health-related retirement.

Aina and Ebuehi are supremely gifted young defenders who will be useful to the team for years.

 

This present NFF board has clearly identified the recruitment of exceptional Nigerian players born and raised in Europe as a path to Super Eagles success.

This policy has opponents who insist that the direction will not help grow domestic football. While they may have a point, national team success or lack of it doesn’t necessarily have to do with how you develop your local football.

The simple fact is no matter how strong the Nigeria Professional Football League grows, for instance, it’s never going to reach the level of the top European leagues. Therefore, players who are exposed to football in these countries from childhood already have a head start  over the ones who learnt their trade here in Nigeria.

 

 

The best footballers from all over the world aspire to play in the big European leagues. And any country’s national team is made up of its best footballers.

For example, although Algeria has a very strong league and decent grassroots developmental system, they won the last AFCON with several players born or raised in Europe, including the French-born Riyad Mahrez. Only one player in the 23-man squad was based in Algeria.

 

 

There is nothing wrong in trying to persuade Abraham to consider playing for the Super Eagles, but he also has to make a quick decision.

 

 

If he chooses Nigeria now when he is in red-hot form, then he really wants us. If he dallies for too long without making a commitment, then he should be left alone.

Hopefully, he will not go the way of Gabriel Agbonlahor, Nedum Onuoha, the late Ugo Ehiogu and Jordon Ibe who all turned down Nigeria only to have non-existent international careers.

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UEFA Champs League, Milan Derby, others to air on GOtv

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UEFA Champs League, Milan Derby, others to air on GOtv

A

series of top-flight games involving elite European teams across various football competitions will be aired live on GOtv during this week.

 

The games scheduled to hold from September 18th to September 22nd, will be broadcast live on SuperSport Select 2 (GOtv channel 32) to GOtv Plus and GOtv Max subscribers and on SuperSport Select 4 (GOtv channel 34) and 5 (GOtv channel 36) exclusive to GOtv Max subscribers.

 

 

At the peak of the pack is the match ‘Day One’ fixture of the 2019/2020 UEFA Champions League between German league champions, Bayern Munich, and Red Star Belgrade of Serbia. The game kicks off at 8pm on Wednesday and will be aired live on SuperSport Select 4.

 

 

Bayern, the five-time European champions, will be hoping to improve on their last season performance, after they were defeated by eventual champions, Liverpool. On the other hand, Red Star, the 1990/1991 European Cup winners, will want to better their record in the present format of the competition by advancing from the group stage.

 

GOtv’s coverage of the European domestic leagues resume on Saturday when Manchester City, English champions, host Watford in a Premier League clash. The game will be broadcast on SuperSport Select 2 at 3pm.

 

Also on Saturday, Serie A champions Juventus, will welcome newly promoted Hellas Verona in a Serie A fixture, which airs live at 5pm on SuperSport Select 5.

 

Manager Antonio Conte will hope that Inter Milan will continue their unbeaten run in the league and maintain top spot, while Marco Giampaolo of AC Milan will hope his misfiring strike force can clinch a much needed victory for their home fans.

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Sports

CAFCL: Enyimba coach sure of team’s progress

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CAFCL: Enyimba coach sure of team’s progress

 

E

nyimba Football Club of Aba coach, Usman Abd’Allah has said he is sure his team will overcome the goalless draw tie they played against Al Hilal of Sudan in the first leg of the Africa Champion League competition last Sunday in Aba.

 

The People’s Elephant who are twice winner of the competition played an uninspiring goalless draw at home against a 10 man Sudanese giants in the first leg of their first round tie.

 

While expressing disappointment with the result, the soft-spoken tactician, who guided Enyimba to a record 8th Nigeria Professional Football League crown last season, expressed confidence his team will advance to the money-spinning stage of the competition.

 

 

“I think it is disappointing but this result is good,” Abd’Allah said in the post-match press conference. “It is not expected of us to play a goalless draw here. But all the same, I think the game is neither won nor lost yet.

“And I am sure I am going to qualify (for the group stage). I am sure I will get out of here, I will qualify.”

 

 

Enyimba will be guests of two-time finalists Al Hilal at their 65, 000-capacity ground in Omdurman in a fortnight, with aggregate winners progressing to the group stage of the competition, while losers will drop down to the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup

 

 

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Sports

Neymar, PSG win Champions League ban appeal

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Neymar, PSG win Champions League ban appeal

T

he Court of Arbitration for Sport has reduced Paris Saint-Germain striker Neymar’s suspension from three to two UEFA games for insulting match officials, CAS said on Tuesday.

 

PSG and Neymar had appealed against the three-game ban imposed by European governing body UEFA in June, and CAS partially upheld the appeal.

 

Neymar labelled the Video Assistant Referee system “a disgrace” after PSG were eliminated from the Champions League round of 16 by Manchester United after the Premier League side were awarded a decisive last-gasp penalty in a 3-1 win at the Parc des Princes.

 

 

Although Neymar will still miss Real Madrid at home on Wednesday and Galatasaray away in early October in Group A, he will now be back in time for the trip to face Club Brugge in late October.

 

 

The 27-year-old made his PSG return in last weekend’s Ligue 1 win over Strasbourg, scoring a late winner after being jeered by his club’s ultras.

 

As well as Neymar, PSG will also be missing Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani against in their Champions League opener against Madrid.

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Sports

Olympics: Minister promises Falcons full support

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Olympics: Minister promises Falcons full support

M

inister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, on Tuesday visited the Super Falcons in training with a promise to give them everything required to enable them to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The Minister told the players and the coaching crew led by Christoper Danjuma that they should forward all their needs to his table to enable him work on them before their Olympic Games qualifying match against Cote d’ Ivoire on September 30.

 

 

“Your welfare is our priority, I am here to encourage and support and ensure you qualify for the Olympic Games. I urge you not to rest on your oars until you win the final ticket.

 

You are African Champions and you must no relent in your quest to go ahead and represent the continent at the Olympics,” he said.

 

 

 

The Minister said he would visit their training from time to time until they depart Abuja for venue of the Olympic Games qualifying tie in Abidjan.

 

 

He said he would be physically present to support them during any warm-up match arrange for them while in camp and asked the handlers to guide against knocks while arranging matches against their male counterparts.

On Coach Thomas Dennerby and his employer’s row, the Minister said he Twitted twice on Monday and assured that a solution will be reached on it.

 

“I have spoken to the coach Dennerby as well as the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation and will be having a meeting with them on Tuesday afternoon in my office in order to resolve the differences,” he assured.

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