UD Levante winger Moses Simon has told SCORENigeria he did not want to miss out on the Super Eagles final AFCON squad after he did not make the cut to last year’s World Cup no thanks to injury.
Simon has made the final 23-man squad to Egypt 2019.
“I did not want to miss the Nations Cup after injury stopped me from the World Cup,” he told SCORENigeria
“So, I had to fight, work hard.
“But it will still be left for the coach to pick his team.”
Simon is one of 20 players who will be making their debuts at the AFCON proper.
Only skipper Mikel Obi, Ahmed Musa and Kenneth Omeruo will not be playing their first AFCON in Egypt.
IJF bans Iran for ordering athlete to withdraw from World Judo Tourney
*To avoid meeting Israeli judoka
Iran has been banned by the International Judo Federation (IJF) after it ordered Saeid Mollaei to pull out of the World Championships in Japan.
Defending champion Mollaei ignored calls to withdraw from his match against Russia’s Khasan Khalmurzaev to avoid the prospect of facing Israel’s Sagi Muki later in the tournament.
Iranian athletes are prohibited from competing in any sport against Israel.
Mollaei lost in the semi-finals and has since been living in Germany.
Earlier in 2019, the National Olympic Committee of Iran had said it would comply with the Olympic charter and the International Judo Federation (IJF), paving the way for Iranian athletes to compete against Israelis.
But the IJF said Iran’s actions at the World Championships in Japan were a “gross contradiction” to these assurances.
The case was referred to the IJF Disciplinary Commission, who said there was a “strong reason to believe that the Iran Judo Federation will continue or repeatedly engage in misconduct or commit any other offence against the legitimate interests, principles or objectives of the IJF”.
Iran can appeal against the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
After the tournament Mollaei said he feared for his family’s safety, reports the BBC.
Speaking to the BBC Persian Service earlier this week, he said: “In Tokyo I left the arena with tears in my eyes.
“I will never forget what happened there. I could have achieved my third world championship medal and my second gold medal. I was so ready and prepared for this.”
Amapakabo names Ezenwa, Effiong, 18 others for Togo
Coach Imama Amapakabo has named the 20 players who will fly Nigeria’s flag at Sunday’s African Nations Championship qualifying match against Togo in Lome.
First choice in goal Adamu Abubakar is joined by Super Eagles’ goaltender Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Enyimba’s Theophilus Afelokhai, as well as defenders Olisah Ndah, John Lazarus, Etboy Akpan and Ebube Duru.
There are also ace forward Ndifreke Effiong (who netted two of the five goals that condemned Sudan to the scrap heap in the final round of the U23 AFCON qualifying series), Mfon Udoh and Tosin Omoyele.
The delegation will fly out of Abuja on Friday to Lome, where they face the Sparrow Hawks at the Stade de Kegue as from 4pm on Sunday.
20 EAGLES B FOR TOGO
Theophilus Afelokhai (Enyimba FC); Adamu Abubakar (Wikki Tourists); Olisah Ndah (Remo Stars); Denis Okon (Akwa United); Stephen Manyo (Enyimba FC); John Lazarus (Lobi Stars); Etboy Akpan (Akwa United); Ebube Duru (Lobi Stars); Oluwadamilare Olatunji (Enyimba FC); Fatai Gbadamosi (Shooting Stars); Ndifreke Effiong (Akwa United); Seth Mayi (Remo Stars); William Ukeme (Wikki Tourists); Samuel Matthias (Akwa United); Chisom Orji (Collin Edwin Academy); Mfon Udoh (Akwa United); Reuben Bala (Enyimba FC); Tosin Omoyele (Plateau United); Sikiru Alimi (Lobi Stars); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Heartland FC).
UEFA League: di Maria returns to haunt Madrid as Atletico hold Juve
- Spurs draws, Man City wins
Angel di Maria scored twice against former employers Real Madrid as Paris St-Germain began their Champions League Group A campaign with a comfortable win.
Thomas Meunier’s stoppage-time goal added more embarrassment for the Spanish giants – and heightened the pressure on Real manager Zinedine Zidane, whose win ratio is below 50% since returning to the club towards the end of last season.
Eden Hazard, making his first start for the visitors, showed some nice touches but struggled to influence proceedings, as a Real old boy stole the show.
Celebrating his 100th in the competition, Di Maria opened the scoring with a close-range shot that crept inside Thibaut Courtois’ near post from Juan Bernat’s pass.
While Real’s Belgian goalkeeper Courtois appeared to be caught out for the opening goal, he could do nothing to prevent the second.
Idrissa Gueye’s fine work on the right create the opening for Di Maria and the Argentina winger found the bottom right corner superbly with a curling effort from 20 yards.
Hopes of a Real fight-back were briefly raised when Gareth Bale lobbed the ball magnificently over home keeper Keylor Navas from the edge of the penalty area.
However, his goal was ruled out for handball by referee Anthony Taylor after it was reviewed by video assistant referee (VAR) officials, as was Karim Benzema’s offside effort late in the second period.
It ensured that PSG, who were without their entire first-choice strike force of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe, halted a run of three consecutive defeats against the Spanish club.
And in Spain, Substitute Hector Herrera scored a 90th-minute equaliser to crown a fine Atletico Madrid comeback and deny Juventus victory in the Champions League.
Former Chelsea winger Juan Cuadrado produced a sumptuous curling finish to put Juventus in front before a header by French World Cup winner Blaise Matuidi made it 2-0.
Stefan Savic sparked Atletico’s fightback with a header inside the six-yard area before Herrera struck from a late corner.
Juventus sent on substitute Aaron Ramsey in the 86th minute, the Wales midfielder’s first appearance for the champions of Italy since moving to Turin in the summer.
In Group D’s other game, Lokomotiv Moscow won 2-1 in Germany against Bayer Leverkusen.
In Greece, Tottenham threw away a two-goal lead as they were forced to settle for a point in their Champions League Group B opener against Olympiakos.
Two goals in four first-half minutes put Spurs in control, with Harry Kane opening the scoring from the penalty spot before Lucas Moura’s scorching 20-yard finish.
Yet Mauricio Pochettino’s side conceded shortly before half-time through impressive Portuguese winger Daniel Podence’s quality finish.
And Manchester City bounced back from their shock Premier League defeat at Norwich by launching their Champions League campaign in style with a deserved 3-0 victory at Shakhtar Donetsk, reports the BBC.
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.”
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.
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.
Friendlies: NFF confirms Brazil for Eagles, targets more
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.
CHAN: NFF bows to pressure as Amapakabo leads Eagles to Lome
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.
Tammy Abraham highlights case for Super Eagles ‘imports’
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.
UEFA Champs League, Milan Derby, others to air on GOtv
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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