Super Eagles new kid on the block, Samuel Chukwueze, has expressed his happiness at playing for Nigeria after making his tournament debut for the national team in a 1-0 defeat of Burundi at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Alexandria, Egypt on Saturday.
The Villarreal of Spain attacker was one of the bright lights for the Super Eagles as the team began their quest for a fourth AFCON title with a win on Saturday in Alexandria.
Speaking to AOIFootball.com, Chukwueze, who described the feeling like a dream come true, stated that he was excited to have helped Nigeria record their first opening match win in 13 years at the AFCON and now hopes the team can take off from there to top the group.
“It was a great feeling playing my first competition with the Super Eagles. I’m excited because it’s a dream come true and it’s an honour to have helped the team begin on a winning note,” he said.
“We played well because it was not an easy game as you also saw. The Burundians were no pushovers, they went the entire qualifiers unbeaten and they also had a point to prove in the game. So for me, it was a good result and we hope to build on this in our subsequent matches and try and progress to the next round.”
The 20-year-old became the first U-17 World Cup winner in this century to play for Nigeria at the Nations Cup and capped off his debut with a series of mesmerizing runs which drew widespread applause from everyone.
FIFA’s CAF takeover plan set for court challenge
FIFA’s plan to take over the running of African football is set to face a possible roadblock with an Executive Committee member of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) saying he will challenge the decision in court.
Hasan Bility, who is from Liberia and a CAF Executive Committee member for last two years, said he will ask the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport to declare invalid the agreement by which FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura will be sent on a secondment to overhaul the African governing body.
Bility said he also wants to ask the court to compel CAF to start a forensic audit of its finances, which he said the Executive Committee had previously agreed to but CAF President Ahmad Ahmad then stalled.
CAF is in crisis following corruption allegations against Ahmad which he has denied.
Ahmad was reported in March to FIFA’s Ethics Committee for alleged corruption and harassment by CAF General Secretary Amr Fahmy. Fahmy was then fired.
He was detained in June by French police in Paris where he was questioned over a sportswear deal between CAF and a French company in which the African body is said to have paid exorbitant prices for equipment it could have got much cheaper directly from the manufacturers.
In a statement released to the media on Monday, former Liberian Football Association President Bility said Ahmad must resign and the proposed FIFA takeover be cancelled, reports Reuters.
“In an attempt to salvage CAF from imminent implosion and irreversible reputational damage, FIFA proposed a poorly conceptualised and worse executed agreement,” Bility said.
“Logically, and in a sane world, the acquiescence by the CAF leadership that they have been unable to manage their own affairs ought to have been followed by quick resignation of its top leaders.
“It is clear to me and many others that the agreement as currently structured has the sole purpose of shielding and cleansing CAF President Ahmad from the crimes he has committed – financial impropriety, sexual harassment and nepotism.”
FIFA has confirmed there is an ethics investigation into Ahmad, although he was yet to be sanctioned.
Ahmad has not responded to Reuters’ requests for comment on the specific allegations against him.
Bility also claimed FIFA President Gianni Infantino has seized on the opportunity to get rid of his Secretary General.
“Infantino has thus seized this opportunity to offer Fatma a ‘golden parachute’ into a confederation job to pave the way for her eventual replacement at the helm of FIFA,” he said.
FIFA on Monday told Reuters it had no further comment to add to last week’s release of an 11-point road map to help African football.
Infantino claimed last week that the unprecedented move to step in and administer African football would “significantly improve” the sport in the continent.
Iwobi shifts focus to Arsenal after Egypt 2019
*Denies planning to leave the Gunners
Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi has already turned his attention to club matters after helping Nigeria to a third-place finish at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Iwobi played in every match during his country’s campaign in Egypt, scoring in the 3-2 win over Cameroon.
The 23-year-old says he cannot wait for the new Premier League season to start.
“I’ve had a tournament to remember but you only get a few days off to refresh then switch focus to club football again,” Iwobi told BBC Sport.
“The target and challenge is always the same, it will be a new season but our determination will be to win every game and competition.
“Of course, we want to be better than last season (a fifth-placed finish), where we had some positives by going unbeaten for 22 games in all competitions and the plan will be to stay consistent throughout the season.”
Iwobi joined Arsenal as a nine year old and has come through the club’s Hale End Academy, before breaking into the first team in 2015.
He has a contract with the Gunners until summer 2022 and was quick to dismiss reports in the English media on Sunday linking him with a move away from North London.
“It’s important to just ignore stuff like that and focus on a very important season ahead,” said Iwobi.
“Arsenal is an amazing club, I have been there since primary school and it’s a place I call home and passionate fans who are like family members.
“I’m looking forward to the new season with this great club and hopefully we can make our fans smile at the end of the season.
“As a footballer you’re committed to play for the badge, train alongside fantastic players daily and compete against some of the game’s best every weekend. What more can you ask for.”
Iwobi represented England at under-16, 17 and 18 level before switching allegiance to Nigeria and has made 36 appearances for the West African nation.
He has since produced some stunning rainbow flicks and tricks that has conjured images of his uncle and Nigeria’s legend Austin ‘Jay-Jay’ Okocha in his pomp and showcased his nephew’s undoubted ability.
Despite saying he wants to be his own man, the local media and fans continue to liken him to the former Super Eagles captain, but Iwobi often says he is unbothered.
In October 2015 Iwobi made his debut against DR Congo in a friendly in Belgium and has scored six goals including in the 2-1 friendly defeat by England at Wembley last year.
Egypt 2019: Morocco coach quits
Herve Renard is standing down as Morocco head coach after their early exit from the Africa Cup of Nations.
Morocco were one of the pre-tournament favourites for Egypt 2019 but suffered a shock penalty shootout defeat by Benin in the last 16.
Renard, who won Afcon with Zambia (2012) and Cote d’Ivoire (2015), had been in charge since February 2016.
“It is time for me to close this long and beautiful chapter of my life,” said the Frenchman, 50.
In a statement on social media, Renard said he was “not without some emotion and sadness”, adding: “It is an inevitable decision taken well before Afcon 2019.
“I took this decision after having – of course – carefully considered [it]. It is therefore irreversible.”
Renard took Morocco from 81st in the FIFA world rankings to 47th, reports the BBC.
He led them to two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, and to the World Cup in Russia in 2018 – the first time the Atlas Lions had played at the global event for 20 years.
His hopes of winning a third Afcon title were dashed in Egypt, and Renard admitted it was not the outcome he had expected.
“We had all hoped [for] better for the Afcon 2019 in Egypt. But this is football – it gives birth to the wildest hopes (after three wins in the first round [for the] first time in Afcon final tournament for Morocco), and brings us hard to the reality of a too-quick elimination on penalties!”
Oliseh faults NFF over Rohr’s refresher course in Germany
…ready to facilitate training of coaches in Holland
A former Super Eagles skipper and coach, Sunday Oliseh, has faulted the Nigeria Football Federation for its decision to send Eagles manager Gernot Rohr to Germany on a refresher course.
Shortly before the end of the just concluded Africa Cup of Nations, NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, stated that rather than fire Rohr, the body would send the tactician on a refresher course at Bayern Munich in Germany.
In a swift reaction to this decision, Oliseh expressed disappointment and argued that there were many Nigerian coaches that needed such assistance but were not considered.
He said it was a shame that the football federation was developing a 66-year-old coach who could decide to quit the country any time.
Oliseh noted that past indigenous national team coaches did not enjoy such privilege from the NFF in the course of duty.
“We do our things in a strange way. Before I give money to any child outside, I must give my child first. And it is funny if anyone will prevent someone from getting to his father’s living room.
“Late Stephen Keshi was not assisted, same goes for Austin Eguavoen, Samson Siasia, Emmanuel Amuneke and a host of others. I was there too and there was no assistance.
“I can facilitate the training of some of our coaches in Holland. I will talk to Ajax and they will be happy to educate our coaches for few weeks in Holland.”
Oliseh said Algeria were worthy champions of the just concluded AFCON but added that he was unhappy the way some players and Nigerians were celebrating the bronze medal won at the tournament.
“Before the first kick of the AFCON, I tipped the Algerians because they were the most balanced and actically equipped team. They deserved their success but I am not happy the way we are celebrating bronze medal.
“We should be winning gold all the time as our birth rights based on the talents we have in our disposal. Madagascar, Benin Republic and Burundi can celebrate bronze but not Nigeria. It’s a no no!” Oliseh said.
Iwobi blasts British media over Arsenal quit claims
Super Eagles forward Alex Iwobi has accused a section of the British media of deception after it was claimed that he wanted to quit Arsenal over the likely arrival of a new star.
Iwobi usually plays out wide for the Gunners and they have been consistently linked with Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha this summer, with a reported £40m bid rejected for the Ivorian star.
The Sun and Daily Mail ran stories on Sunday quoting Iwobi as threatening to leave Arsenal if Zaha arrives to put his spot in jeopardy.
The Sun, who originally wrote the story and headlined it ‘Arsenal star Iwobi may quit if they sign Wilfried Zaha’, quoted Iwobi as saying: “I am not one to chicken out. I have had it all over the years, being told I’m not good enough.
“So whenever the chance comes I always try and prove I should be starting. But it’s going to be difficult if Zaha comes. He will add more stress.
“I am up for the fight but the only time I would consider leaving is if I am not playing as much as I would like to.
“Obviously, my joy is to play football and not just sit out.
“If it comes to that I would have no choice but to leave. But I would always put up a fight to play — that is what I have done all my life.
We have big stars already, so by adding another one I’ll just have to prove I can do better than them.”
In reaction, Iwobi, who stood out as Nigeria won bronze at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt just last week, tweeted on Sunday: “Fake News & Click Bait! I Don’t know Why Some Newspapers Enjoy Twisting Words 🤷🏽. I Hope We Sign World Class Players @Arsenal And Progress As A Team 🙏🏽. I’m Looking Forward To The New Season. Happy Sunday . “
He added screenshots of the headlines from both outlets, the Mail claiming ‘Iwobi warns Arsenal he will QUIT if they sign Zaha’.
Incidentally, Iwobi signed a new long-term Arsenal contract only last year and has a good relationship with manager Unai Emery.
Amuneke warns Nigeria over AFCON 2021 opponents
x-international, Emmanuel Amuneke, has warned Nigeria not to take their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign opponents lightly in order to avoid any upsets.
Amuneke, who helped Tanzania qualify for the just concluded AFCON in Egypt, said some of the minnows on the continent are now working hard to close the gap against the big teams.
Debutants Madagascar defeated Nigeria 2-0 at the 2019 AFCON while Morocco was eliminated by Benin in the same competition.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria won bronze in Egypt and they have been drawn alongside Benin, Sierra Leone and Lesotho in Group L of the qualifiers for the 2021 edition.
“It would be an aberration if the Super Eagles decided to take Sierra Leone, Lesotho and the Benin Republic for granted, considering the fact that African football has reached a new height,” Amuneke said.
“The performance of Benin, Madagascar, Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau will serve as a testimony to what the Super Eagles should expect when the qualifiers start.
“Like I have always ssaid, preparation is key and we must select players with the right mentality to execute the matches without excuses.
“There is no doubt that the team did very well in Egypt to have at least claim the bronze medal. It will be nice to maintain the same spirit.”
Pacquiao beats Thurman, wins WBA Super welterweight title
Manny Pacquiao said he had “fun” as he became the oldest welterweight champion in history by beating WBA Super champion Keith Thurman in a split decision in Las Vegas.
Thurman – previously undefeated – had promised to send the 40-year-old Fillipino into retirement, but was knocked down in the first round before a thrilling fight went the distance.
“I knew it was too close,” said American Thurman. “He got the knockdown so he had momentum in round one. This was a beautiful night of boxing.”
The 30-year-old had been looking for his 30th straight win.
Two judges scored it 115-112 to Pacquiao, while the other gave it 114-113 to Thurman.
Pacquiao – a world champion at eight weights – was fighting for the 71st time in a stellar career that has seen seven defeats, but with four of those losses coming in his past 11 fights before the meeting with Thurman.
Afterwards, Pacquiao said he felt “blessed” and he will return to the Philippines to resume his work as a senator before deciding his next move.
“I think I will fight next year,” he added.
CAF Champions League: Kano Pillars to face Kotoko, Enyimba draw Rahimo
ne of the country’s representatives in the next season’s CAF Champions League, Kano Pillars, have been handed a tricky tie in the first preliminary round of the championship as they will be facing Ghana side, Asante Kotoko.
Kano Pillars finished second behind Enyimba in the Super Six play-offs in Lagos and will begin their journey in the competition by traveling to Ghana for the first leg scheduled for August 9 or 10 with the second leg coming up in Kano in the weekend of August 23 and 24.
The Nigerian side have played in the CAF Champions League on five occasions with their best performance a semi-final finish in 2009 where they were eliminated by another Nigeria team, Heartland.
For Asante, they have appeared in the championships on nine occasions with their best a group stage finish in 2006.
A win for Kano Pillars will see them facing another strong opponent in the second round, as they will be meeting the winner of the first round game between Étoile Sportive du Sahel of Tunisia and Hafia FC of Guinea.
Also the winners of the 2019 Nigeria Professional Football League title, Enyimba, has been drawn against Rahimo FC of Burkina Faso with the Aba club playing the first leg at home on the weekend of August 9 and 10 before travelling to Burkina Faso for the second leg on the weekend of August 23 and 24.
For the second round, the two-time winners of the competition will be facing the winnerwinners of the tir between Al Hillal of Sudan and Rayon Sports of Rwanda.
De Gea to sign new Man United deal
David de Gea will sign a new long-term contract at Manchester United that will make him the best-paid goalkeeper in the world, Sky Sports News claims.
The Spain international has been offered between £350,000 and £375,000 per week to remain at Old Trafford.
Negotiations between United and De Gea have been taking place for over a year, with the 28-year-old’s current deal due to expire at the end of the season.
De Gea has been named United’s player of the year on a record four occasions since arriving from Atletico Madrid eight years ago.
He started for United in their 1-0 win over Inter Milan in the International Champions Cup on Saturday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the United manager, gave a positive update on the goalkeeper’s future ahead of their pre-season match against Leeds last Wednesday.
Marcus Rashford is the latest big-name player to extend their United deal under Solskjaer, signing a four-year deal with an option for a further 12 months which will see him earn £200,000-a-week.
CampsBay Media, Guardian, host Africa Digital Sports Conference
CampsBay Media, a specialist sports communication and media company, and The Guardian are collaborating to host the inaugural Africa Digital Sports Conference in Lagos from September 19 to 20.
The Africa Digital Sports Conference (ADSCon) is an initiative of CampsBay Media created uniquely to help develop and enhance the fortunes of African sport businesses through digital media technology.
The event with theme, ‘Monetising Sports in a Digital Era,’ will bring together over 300 African sports, technology and media leaders to network and discover new opportunities in the changing digital technology space and its benefits for the evolving sports industry.
Lolade Adewuyi, Chief Strategist at CampsBay Media and convener of the Africa Digital Sports Conference, said: “Sport businesses in developed climes are already mining the opportunities that abound in using digital platforms to reach their fans directly while increasing revenue.”
The two-day event will feature panel discussions, masterclasses, interviews and exhibitions. Discussions will range from trends such as new digital sports tech companies competing for sports rights with traditional broadcasters, the growth of over-the-top (OTT) technologies and the growth of digital technologies creating a multi-billion dollar media and entertainment industry.
And registration has commenced on the Africa Digital Sports Conference website, www.africadigitalsports.com/ register.
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