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Europa League: Man United to face Astana, Arsenal tackle Frankfurt

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Europa League: Man United to face Astana, Arsenal tackle Frankfurt

Manchester United face a 6,000-mile round trip to play Astana in Kazakhstan in the Europa League.

The 2017 winners will also take on Partizan Belgrade and AZ Alkmaar, while Wolves – playing in Europe for the first time since 1980 – face Besiktas, Braga and Slovan Bratislava

Arsenal, who lost to Chelsea in last season’s final, have drawn Eintracht Frankfurt, Standard Liege and Vitoria.

Celtic will face Lazio, while Rangers are in a tough group with Porto.

It is a difficult assignment for both Scottish clubs, with Neil Lennon’s Celtic also taking on Romanian champions Cluj, who knocked them out of Champions League qualifying, and French top-flight side club Rennes.

Rangers, managed by Steven Gerrard, have also been drawn against Dutch Eredivisie club Feyenoord and Swiss side Young Boys.

Premier League side Manchester United have arguably one of the more testing draws, including a nine-hour-plus flight to play Astana.

European football’s governing body UEFA has ordered Serbian club Partizan Belgrade to play two matches behind closed doors after their qualifying game against Turkish club Yeni Malatyaspor was marred by supporters’ “racist behaviour”.

AZ Alkmaar, United’s third Group L opponents, saw part of the roof at had part of the roof collapse at their ground earlier in August.

Arsenal face German top-flight opposition in Eintracht Frankfurt, who lost on penalties to Chelsea in the semi-finals last season.

Wolves have already come through three ties just to reach the group stage, including beating Serie A side Torino 5-3 on aggregate in the play-offs, reports the BBC.

Group stage draw in full:

Group A: Sevilla, Apoel Nicosia, Qarabag, F91 Dudelange

Group B: Dynamo Kiev, FC Copenhagen, Malmo, Lugano

Group C: Basel, Krasnodar, Getafe, Trabzonspor

Group D: Sporting Lisbon, PSV Eindhoven, Rosenborg, Lask

Group E: Lazio, Celtic, Rennes, Cluj

Group F: Arsenal, Eintracht Frankfurt, Standard Liege, Vitoria

Group G: Porto, Young Boys, Feyenoord, Rangers

Group H: CSKA, Moscow, Ludogorets, Espanyol, Ferencvaros

Group I: Wolsfburg, Gent, Saint-Etienne, Olexandriya

Group J: Roma, Borussia Monchengladbach, Istanbul Basaksehir, Wolfsberger AC

Group K: Besiktas, Braga, Slovan Bratislava, Wolves

Group L: Manchester United, FC Astana, Partizan Belgrade, AJ Alkmaar

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Brazil, Nigeria clash again as Eaglets tackle Sao Paulo FC in friendly 

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Brazil, Nigeria clash again as Eaglets tackle Sao Paulo FC in friendly 

Another Brazil, Nigeria clash comes quickly as five-time world champions, Golden Eaglets of Nigeria tackle Sao Paulo FC in a friendly game on Monday, as part of their preparations for this year’s FIFA U17 World Cup finals starting in Brazil on October 26.

 

Having settled down in the city of Sao Paulo and gradually adapting to the high altitude weather, the Nigerian side will file out against Sao Paulo FC’s U17 team at the Saropoca Sports Complex at 3pm local time, which is 7pm Nigerian time.

 

Speaking to thenff.com in Sao Paulo after breakfast on Sunday, Head Coach Manu Garba disclosed that the friendly game will be a good test for the players, to see how they are quickly settling down to the task ahead when the global championship kicks off in a fortnight.

 

“The team will play Sao Paulo FC and we want to see how they are adapting to some of the things learnt in the training sessions since we came to Sao Paulo,” Manu Garba said.

 

“The friendly game against Sao Paulo FC is one of the friendly games we have lined up for the team. The team will play Japan next in another friendly game before the end of the week,” he added.

 

Nigeria will begin her quest for honours at the 2019 FIFA U17 World Cup with a game against Hungary on October 26.

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Brazil force Nigeria to 1-1 draw in Singapore

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Brazil force Nigeria to 1-1 draw in Singapore

A strong and competent performance by the Super Eagles earned a 1-1 draw against five –time world champions Brazil in a prestige international friendly in Singapore on Sunday.

 

Both teams started with good pace, passion and intensity at the Singapore National Stadium in Kallang and after only two minutes, Roberto Firmino’s turn and shot flew away from the Nigerian goal. Three minutes later, the three-time African champions waltzed their way into the Brazilian vital area but Victor Osimhen’s shot was palmed away by goalkeeper Ederson.

Brazil’s France-based forward Neymar was forced to quit the game after only 12 minutes, due to injury, but seven minutes later Marquinhos could have put Nigeria in front with a bizarre own goal after his attempt to clear Chukwueze’s pull-out went wrong.

Villarreal FC of Spain’s Chukwueze, a former Nigeria U17 World Cup winner, was a thorn in the flesh of the Selecao throughout, and created chances for Nigeria in the 20th and 24th minute but Osimhen was cut out by an alert Brazilian rear.

In the 28th minute, Nigeria goalkeeper Francis Uzoho showed excellent agility in cutting out a powerful header by the ubiquitous Gabriel Jesus. Two minutes later, Uzoho was again alert to foil a shot by Firmino, and then reacted faster than Philip Coutinho as the ball danced in the box.

 

In the 35th minute, Nigeria broke through again, this time mining gold. Joseph Ayodele-Aribo, who scored on his debut in the friendly against Ukraine in Dnipro last month, kept his cool and showed cleverness in taking a pass from Moses Simon and ghosting past Casemiro and Thiago Silva to shoot past Ederson for the opener.

 

The goal expectedly stung the Selecao into greater intensity and desperation, but they could have conceded again two minutes later only for Wilfred Ndidi to shoot directly at Ederson from a counter attack. In the 40th minute, stand-in captain William Ekong, who had a great game alongside central defence partner Semi Ajayi, cleared as Jesus lobbed into the Nigerian box, and four minutes later, a free kick by Coutinho whistled past Uzoho’s post though he had it well covered.

 

In the second half, the Selecao launched onslaught after onslaught, and equalized in the 48th minute as Casemiro reacted faster than the defence when the ball bounced off the crossbar from a Marquinhos header.
The South Americans then swarmed on the Nigeria rear to get more goals but found the Super Eagles super resilient, with Chidozie Awaziem, Jamilu Collins, Ndidi and goalscorer Aribo brilliantly complementing Ekong and Ajayi.

 

In the 53rd minute, Osimhen leapt between two defenders but his header was not strong enough to rattle Ederson. Three minutes later, Uzoho pulled another big save from a Gabriel Jesus header. On the hour, the Cyprus-based Uzoho, who was Nigeria’s number one goalkeeper at last year’s FIFA World Cup finals in Russia, had to leave the session after twisting his leg as he went for the ball from a Brazilian corner.

 

His replacement, Maduka Okoye, was not much troubled though he showed calmness. In the closing stages, Semi Ajayi was excellent with some game-saving interventions at the Nigerian rear.

The result was a huge confidence booster for the Super Eagles, who begin their race to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations with qualifying matches against Benin Republic and Lesotho next month. It was also a huge improvement from Nigeria’s 0-3 defeat to the Selecao in a friendly match in Abuja in June 2003.

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Eagles,Brazil draw in Singapore

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Eagles,Brazil draw in Singapore

Nigeria’s Super Eagles have drawn 1-1 against Brazil in an international friendly played in Singapore on Sunday afternoon.

Joe Aribo scored in the 34th minute to gift the Super Eagles the lead, before Casemiro scored the equalizer, following a corner kick in the 48th minute.

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Eagles,Brazil draw in Singapore

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Eagles,Brazil draw in Singapore

Nigeria’s Super Eagles have drawn 1-1 against Brazil in an international friendly played in Singapore on Sunday afternoon.

Joe Aribo scored in the 34th minute to gift the Super Eagles the lead, before Casemiro scored the equalizer, following a corner kick in the 48th minute.

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Friendly: Sanwo-Olu, Dare charge Eagles to beat Brazil

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Friendly: Sanwo-Olu, Dare charge Eagles to beat Brazil

Youth and Sports Minister, Sunday Dare and Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State have pumped up the spirit of the Super Eagles while charging the three –time African champions to defeat Brazil in Sunday’s prestige friendly in Singapore.

 

Both top Nigerian officials spoke to the players and officials of the Super Eagles on telephone when President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, visited the team camp on Saturday evening.

 

Pinnick was part of the team’s official training at the Singapore National Stadium and then joined the group for dinner, where he made calls to the Lagos State number one citizen and the Youth and Sports Minister.

 

“I want to commend you all, that is the technical crew, backroom staff and players for the good job you are doing.

 

The whole of Nigeria is behind you. We’ll be watching the game live here, fully supporting you as you go for a win against the Brazilians,” said Youth and Sports Minister. Lagos State governor was also on the telephone urging the team to do Nigeria proud by going all out against the fivetime world champions.

 

In their responses, Technical Adviser Gernot Rohr and stand-in captain William Ekong promised that the team will put up a good outing that will do the country proud. Rohr said: “We are having a great time in camp like the one big family that we are.

 

We are hoping not only to do well in tomorrow’s match, but also targeting a good start to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign against Benin Republic and Lesotho next month.”

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Kipchoge breaks two-hour marathon mark

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Kipchoge breaks two-hour marathon mark

Eliud Kipchoge has become the first athlete to run a marathon in under two hours, beating the mark by 20 seconds.

 

The Kenyan, 34, covered the 26.2 miles (42.2km) in one hour 59 minutes 40 seconds in the Ineos 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, Austria on Saturday.

 

It will not be recognised as the official marathon world record because it was not in open competition and he used a team of rotating pacemakers. “This shows no-one is limited,” said Kipchoge. “Now I’ve done it, I am e x p e c t i n g more people to do it after me.”

 

The Olympic champion – who holds the official ma r a t h o n world record of 2:01:39, set in Berlin, Germany in 2018 – missed out by 25 seconds in a previous attempt at the Italian Grand Prix circuit at Monza in 2017. Knowing he was about to make history on the home straight, the pacemakers dropped back to let Kipchoge sprint over the line alone, roared on by a large crowd in the Austrian capital.

 

The four-time London Marathon winner embraced his wife Grace, grabbed a Kenyan flag and was mobbed by his pacemakers, including many of the world’s best middle and long-distance runners.

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It is going to be tough against Brazil –Troost-Ekong

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It is going to be tough against Brazil –Troost-Ekong

Super eagles defender, Williams Troost-Ekong, has said it is going to be tough against Brazil on Sunday when both sides file out in an international friendly game to be played in Singapore. According to the stand-in captain after the substantive captain, Ahmed Musa, pulled out of the game due to injury said they have no fear but just respect for their opponent.

 

“Brazil is a top team, probably the best team in the world. But Senegal gave them a good fight on Thursday. We can pick some inspiration from that performance when we play the Brazilians on Sunday,” he said.

 

“It will be tough because they will want to win at least one game against an African team on this tour, but we will also want to take something off them.” Sunday’s encounter starts at 8pm Singapore time (1pm Nigeria time).

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Rohr rubbishes quit talk, targets AFCON 2021 qualifiers

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Rohr rubbishes quit talk, targets AFCON 2021 qualifiers

Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, has put paid to insinuations that he is on the verge of dumping his job as the Nigeria National team coach after describing the news as fake.

 

 

Speaking ahead of the team’s friendly game agaisnt Brazil on Sunday, Rohr said he is focusing on the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and not thinking of any other things.

 

“The game against Brazil will show how much we are progressing after finishing third at the Africa Cup in Egypt,” he said.

 

“It is a fantastic opportunity for us to learn a few more things that will make us better and stronger for future challenges. “This is an important test game for us, and we are here to learn from the best. We hope for a very good game against Brazil on Sunday.

 

This will help us prepare ourselves for the 2021 AFCON qualifiers against Benin Republic and Lesotho next month.

 

“After the 2019 AFCON, two of our top players (Mikel Obi and Odion Ighalo) retired and we have to see how to replace them. We saw a little bit in our friendly against Ukraine last month and hope we can improve on that performance tomorrow.

 

“A good showing against Brazil will help our confidence a great deal.”

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Firstbank Georgian Cup hits the centenary mark

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As part of its commitment to the growth and development of sports across the country, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has announced its sponsorship of the Georgian Cup of the Kaduna Polo Tournament, which is taking place for the 100th consecutive year.

 

The sponsorship deal is one of the longest running sports sponsorship in the country. The 2019 edition of the tournament runs from October 12 – 20, at the Kaduna Polo Club

The Kaduna Georgian Cup Centenary Polo Tournament commenced in 1919, with FirstBank as sponsor, a thing it has done for 100 years. The Cup is the oldest and most respected Polo trophy in West Africa sub-region. Excited at the commitment of the FirstBank, the President, Kaduna Polo Club, Alhaji Suleman Abubakar said: “We are honoured to record such a milestone with FirstBank since the inception of the tournament 100 years ago.

 

“FirstBank remains a noble brand close to our heart at the Kaduna Polo Club and the tournament has indeed been a catalyst of socioeconomic growth of Kaduna and the nation as a whole.”

 

Expressing the bank’s delight on the sponsorship, the Group Head, Marketing & Corporate Communications, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Folake Ani-Mumuney said, The Georgian Cup Polo Tournament is one of the many heritage sporting sponsorships supported by FirstBank over the years.

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Lagos to host Zenith Bank Women’s Basketball League Final 8

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The National Final 8 of the 2019 Zenith Bank Women Basketball League will take place at the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium, Lagos from October 17 to 24.

 

Following the conclusion of the Conference playoffs in Ibadan, First Bank of Lagos maintained their unbeaten run in the 2019 season to top the Atlantic Conference ahead of MFM who finished second.

 

Dolphins and Asaba based Delta Force finished third and fourth respectively to confirm their spots in the Zenith Bank Women’s Basketball League National final 8.

 

In the Savannah Conference played in Abuja, Air Warriors stayed true to their name as they defeated all seven oppositions to qualify for the National Finals on a high while Customs under Coach AbdulRahman Mohammed finished second. Plateau Rocks and Zenith Bank sponsored league debutants, Blackgold Queens will also be coming to Lagos after their impressive display at the conference phase.

 

The two National finalists will qualify for the 2019 FIBA Africa Zone 3 Champions Cup qualifiers to be hosted in Cotonou, Benin Republic from October 28 to November 3.

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