ig-money summer signing Antoine Griezmann scored his first La Liga goals for Barcelona as they came from behind to beat Real Betis at the Nou Camp and secure their first win of the season.
With the injured Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez watching on from the stands, Griezmann stepped up with two strikes while Carles Perez, Jordi Alba and Arturo Vidal also scored as the La Liga champions came back from Nabil Fekir’s opener for Betis to secure a 5-2 win.
Griezmann’s first came just before half-time as he athletically steered a delightful Sergi Roberto cross into the net with his outstretched left foot, while his second on 50 minutes was a sublime curled effort from the edge of the box.
The Frenchman celebrated by taking a handful of confetti from the sidelines and throwing it into the air as he made his mark following his €120 million switch from Atletico Madrid in the summer.
Perez steered in a third for the hosts on 56 minutes – his first goal for the club – before Alba added a fourth four minutes later after collecting a Sergio Busquets pass.
Vidal then added a fifth on 77 minutes but there was still time for a 25-yard rocket from Loren to serve as a consolation for Betis.
With the win, Ernesto Valverde’s men put their opening day defeat to Athletic Bilbao behind them while they still have the boost of Suarez and Messi to return from injury.
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.
NPFL, LaLiga introduce U-12 tournament for clubs in Nigeria
An U-12 years old competition is to be added to the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) and Spanish League (LaLiga) collaboration for youth football development on the auspices of NPFL/LaLiga U-15 Promises Tournament.
This formed the highlight of decisions reached at an exploratory meeting between the League Management Company (LMC) and the LaLiga Nigeria team which met to design a roadmap for the next edition of the NPFL-Laliga U-15 Promises Youth League.
The discussion which held at the corporate headquarters of the League body in Abuja, was attended by the Chairman of the LMC, Mallam Shehu Dikko, alongside the Chief Operating Officer, Salihu Abubakar, Sunday Obaseki and Surajudeen Yusuff while the LaLiga team had their Nigeria Delegate, Guillermo Perez Castello, LaLiga Nigeria Ambassador, Mutiu Adepoju and Ayodeji Adegbenro.
LMC Chief Operating Officer, Salihu Abubakar, explained that the meeting was held to provide interface with the parties involved, as well as design a roadmap for staging the next edition of the championship which is expected to commence in January 2020 with a coaching clinic for the NPFL clubs’ U-15 coaches.
It was also decided during the meeting that a maiden edition of an U-12 football league for the NPFL clubs be organized alongside the Under 15 championship in order to enable the premier league clubs to have a buoyant and functional youth system.
2nd Leg Lagos Challenge: Players excite Swede soccer agent, others
The future of Nigerian football is very bright, Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) licensed agent, Swede’s Kenth Warja has said.
Warja, a professor and head coach of the whole of northern Sweden, made the observation at the close of a five day 2nd Leg Lagos Challenge which was rounded off on Sunday at the Agege Stadium, Lagos with over 300 players participating in the scouting tournament.
According to the Swede, Nigerian players are bundle of talents and very interesting to watch.
“It’s nice to be here. I’ve seen a lot of talents. Some of the players are interesting and are players for future. In selecting the talents, we’re going to consider their ages and hopeful pick some to Europe because we’ve a lot of great players here,” he said.
Another FIFA licensed agent, Edan Gilade, who was also at scouting tournament to observe the players told our correspondent that he was impressed with the quality of players that featured at the programme, noting that it is a sign of great thing ahead for Nigerian football.
“I represent some clubs and players in United States, Sweden and Israel. So I’m here with other to see some young talents and potential stars from the academies. We’ve seen some good players but we’re still going to analyse their performance as well as consider their ages and position including some other elements before taking the final decision,” he said.
Tournament Director of the 2nd Leg Lagos Challenge, Pius Kayode Olubode on his part, said: “First and foremost, I’ll thank the Almighty God for making this programme a success. Initially, we anticipated of having 70 to 80 percent sucess but we’ve achieved more and from the report of the scouts, the programme was a big success.
“From my list here we’ve about 53 players selected and I can assure that at the end of the day more than 20 of them will be going for trials in europe,” he assured.
5 lifters to represent Nigeria in Doha Olympic qualifiers
The Nigeria Weightlifting Federation (NWF), says it has selected five lifters to represent Nigeria at the 6th International Qatar Weightlifting Cup slated for between Dec. 19 and Dec. 24 in Doha.
NWF Technical Director, Christopher Nwadei, disclosed this while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.
Nwadei said that the competition was one of the qualifiers for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
He said the lifters were-Augustina Nwaokolo 49 kg, Adenike Olarinoye 55 kg, Rafiatu Folashade Lawal 59 kg, Fatima Musa 76 kg and Emmanuel Appah 61 kg.
Nwadei said the lifters had been in camp at the Moshood Abiola Stadium since the beginning of December in preparation for the tournament promising to make the country proud at the event.
“We have been training morning and evening ahead of the competition, only five weightlifters will represent the country in Qatar.
“The team is determined to be among the first three positions at the end of the competition.
“The ministry and the federation have given us the necessary support for the team to put up a good performance and I’m sure the lifters will not disappoint,” he said.
The Technical Director said that the team would depart Nigeria on Dec.18 to Qatar for the tournament.
He said the team needed to secure valuable points that would make it qualify for the 2020 Olympics.
“The team will work hard to replicate its performance at the African Games in Morocco; we were the federation that gave the country the highest number of medals at the games.
“Weightlifting won 47 medals out of the 127 medals that the country won which was an outstanding performance.
“I am sure that the team will make the country proud again,” he said.
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