anchester United have been left ‘stunned’ by Paul Pogba’s claim that question marks still lingered over his future at Old Trafford.
The French midfielder told reporters in June that he wanted a “new challenge” three years on from returning to United from Juventus for £89m.
Speaking after United’s 4-0 win over Chelsea on Sunday, Pogba admitted that there remained “question marks” about his future at the club.
According to The Mirror, United were left deeply concerned by the 26-year-old’s comments after the game.
The Red Devils received keen interest from Real Madrid for the signature of Pogba, but refused to budge on their £170m valuation of the player.
Club president Florentino Perez reportedly offered a player-plus-cash deal involving James Rodriguez and £27.4m for Pogba, but this bid was flatly rejected by United.
Solskjaer urges crackdown on online abuse
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said players need more protection from social media companies, describing racist abuse and death threats directed at them as “serious incidents.”
United midfielder Paul Pogba was the target of online abuse after missing a penalty in Monday’s 1-1 Premier League draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers, prompting the club to issue a strong statement condemning the views.
Chelsea manager Frank Lampard last week urged social media companies to take action after 21-year-old striker Tammy Abraham was targeted after the team’s UEFA Super Cup loss to Liverpool.
“We need to protect individuals. When there’s death threats and racism, it’s serious allegations, serious incidents,” Solskjaer told reporters on the eve of Saturday’s clash with Crystal Palace.
“Sometimes you get annoyed, what can we do about it as Manchester United? We’re not going to ban our players on social media, we have to spread the good word instead.”
Solskjaer backed Frenchman Pogba to rise above the abuse and emerge stronger.
“Paul is fine, he’s a strong character and it makes him stronger. I cannot believe we still sit here in 2019 taking about these instances,” the Norwegian added.
“Social media is a place where people can hide behind fake identities. There’s so many Ole Gunnar Solskjaers on social media that I know are not me.
“The authorities have got to do something about the ones who spread this hate. You feel sorry for them really — they must have problems themselves.”
Pogba will continue to share penalty duties with striker Marcus Rashford despite the miss against Wolves, reports Reuters.
“I’m sure you’re going to see Pogba score a penalty again for United. Let’s see when we get the next one. We’re practising penalties still,” Solskjaer said.
“There’s no fighting amongst them. We’re disappointed that we didn’t win the game, but the talk is always more difficult when you don’t get a result.”
United are holding talks with other clubs over the transfer of Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez, who played in a behind-closed-doors friendly with Sheffield United on Tuesday.
“There are still talks with some clubs but he played in that game and played well, he’s working hard… let’s see in September what’s going to happen,” Solskjaer added.
EPL: We can match Liverpool’s front three – Aubameyang
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang says Arsenal could try to fight fire with fire on Saturday by deploying him in a front three alongside Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe when they travel to face Liverpool in the Premier League.
Liverpool’s attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino combined for 69 goals and 19 assists in all competitions last season and Aubameyang labelled them “one of the best trios in the world”.
“As we’ve seen from last season, Liverpool play with three up front and they play very well. Why not us? I think we can do it,” Aubameyang told Sky Sports here
“I see a lot of similarities. Pepe and me, we are quick players like Mane and Salah, while ‘Laca’ is a player who can keep the ball and is really good with his feet like Firmino. So yes, we can say we are close enough.”
Pepe, who cost Arsenal a club record 72 million pounds ($88.03 million), scored 22 league goals and provided 11 assists for Lille last season and Aubameyang is looking forward to seeing what he can bring to the attack when the three link up on the pitch, reports Reuters.
“First of all, he speaks French so it will be easy for him to settle in and play with us,” Aubameyang added. “He only started training with us a few weeks ago but it’s good to have him with us. He’s started well.
“Last season he was amazing. He’ll bring us speed and excellent finishing.”
Accommodating all three in the starting lineup would require a change in formation but Aubameyang has no qualms about moving from the centre forward role to play out wide.
“I’ve played a lot of times on the right and the left during my career, so I’m used to it. It’s a bit of a different job,” the Gabon international said.
“When you are a striker you have to keep hold of the ball and you have to score goals. When you are out wide you have to run and defend a bit more than if you are playing as a striker through the middle. But it’s not a problem.”
Sunday Dare: I’ll give equal attention to sports, youth devt
Mr Sunday Dare, Minister of Youth and Sports Development has pledged to give equal attention to the development of Sports and the Youths as he strives to reposition the ministry.
Dare disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja at the sidelines of the 2019 International Youth Day.
The minister who was performing his first official assignment after his swearing in on Wednesday by President Muhammadu Buhari alongside 42 other ministers said he his ready to hit the ground running.
He assured that it was not going to be business as usual as he seeks to take the ministry to the next level in line with President Buhari’s mandate.
“I can assure you that attention will be paid to youth development and sports development.
“The mandate is clear and the two mandate areas will be given equal attention, ” he said.
NAN reports that the assurance is coming on the heels of accusation in a section of the media that previous ministers had paid more attention to Sports, especially football at the expense of youth development.
The minister had on Wednesday shortly after his inauguration highlighted the nexus between Sports and the youths and how it can be harnessed for national development.
“Youth development is key to the success of any government. We have youths, we have sports. Our mandate area is very clear.
“We must broaden our horizons, we must deepen the work we do and quality of work we bring to the table.
“I’m not unaware of the challenges, controversies and development in this ministry.
“It’s a ministry that is dear to the hearts of Nigerians. Beyond sports, there are other ways we can develop the youths. We will be thinking outside the box,” he said.
The minister, a veteran journalist was the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) before is appointment.
NBBF traces Afrobasket success to Buhari
The board of the Nigeria Basketball Federation has lauded the fatherly role played by His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari in the Senior Women’s Basketball team’s 2019 Afrobasket triumph.
The board led by Engr. Musa Kida said that the President’s unflinching support provided the enabling environment for the federation to prepare the team for their Afrobasket title defense.
According to Kida who was on ground to cheer the team to victory, the resilience and doggedness of D’Tigress in the face of adversity before and during the final game against host- Senegal stemmed from the support of millions of Nigerians led by President Buhari.
“His Excellency’s support was vital to D’Tigress success. He came through for us as the father of the Nation when we needed him most and the entire team and the board is grateful for this.”
Kida said the outstanding records achieved under His Excellency could not have been possible without his express support and personal efforts.
“Under his Excellency, Nigeria has continued to break barriers and set new records in basketball.
Under his watch, we won the 2017 Afrobasket Championship in Mali and it is on record that he hosted the girls in Abuja.
“The men came second in Africa also in 2017 at the Afrobasket and became the first country in the world to qualify for the FIBA World Cup months later. Now, we have achieved another incredible result of successfully defending our title which is a rare feat in African basketball,” Kida said.
Kida confirmed that with such support from the number one citizen of the most populous black nation in the world, the NBBF and all its national teams can only reach for the stars.
In the same vein, the board also congratulated the new Honorable Minister of Sports, Mr Dare Sunday, who was on Wednesday inaugurated.
Kida expressed optimism that the newly appointed minister will hit the ground running at such a critical time that sports is needed to contribute to the Gross Domestic Product of Nigeria.
“We are excited about this timely appointment just days before the men senior basketball team start their FIBA World Cup in campaign in China. We believe that his goodluck charm will work for the team in China as they hope to shock the world.”
“In my personal capacity as Musa Kida and as President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation, we wish him a successful tenure while in office serving our fatherland.”
Iwobi doubtful for Villa/Everton tie today
Super Eagles winger Alex Iwobi might not play a part when his English Premier League side Everton visit Aston Villa today after his coach Silva claimed the player is yet to attain full fitness.
Iwobi is yet to feature for the Toffees since his move to the Goodison Park from Arsenal and when asked if Iwobi is looking forward to making his debut Silva told reporters on Thursday afternoon that : ”Yes of course! For sure he’s looking forward to it, and we all are.
“But he started really late, just now it’s his second week working with the team and he didn’t have a pre-season.
“We have to take care about the situation giving him enough time to get fitter.
“Of course if we need him during the games he is available to help us. Not for 90 minutes, but he’s getting better. If I decide, he’ll be ready to help.”
B’Ball World Cup: Nwora to release D’Tigers’ final list August 27
D‘Tigers have arrived China for the last phase of their FIBA World Cup preparation.
The senior men national team which departed Lagos through the Murtala Mohammed International Airport aboard Emirate Airline arrived in China on Wednesday night before proceeding to Yangzhou for the Peak Invitational International tournament between the 22nd and 27th of August.
The coach Alex Nwora tutored side with 15 players still in camp 8 days to the World Cup starting on the 31st of August will compete against fellow world cup bound Iran, Montenegro and Poland as they perfect their plans.
Nwora revealed that the final 12-man list will be released after their Peak Invitational campaign on the 27th before their first game against Russia on Saturday, 31st of August.
Nigeria whose last appearance at the World Cup was 2006 is grouped alongside Russia, Argentina and Korea.
NFF mourns ex-Falcons star, Ifeanyi Chiejine
The Nigeria Football Federation has said it is ‘terribly saddened’ at news of the death on Wednesday, 21st August of former Super Falcons’ attacking midfielder Ifeanyichukwu Chiejine.
Reports on Thursday morning said the effervescent and skilful attacking midfielder passed on in Lagos after a brief illness.
General Secretary of the Nigeria Football Federation, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, was momentarily speechless after being informed of the passing of the former player.
“This is huge shock. We had no idea that she was sick. Ifeanyi was one of the most naturally gifted players to have featured for the Super Falcons. Her death at such a young age is a big blow.
“She gave one hundred percent of her ability and capacity each time she turned out for country. We will always remember her as a bundle of skill and energy, and as a patriotic individual who wore the green-white-green with a smile every time.”
The 36-year-old captained the first set of the Falconets that featured at the inaugural edition of the FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup in Canada in 2002. The competition would be renamed FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup six years later.
Ifeanyichukwu Stephanie Chiejine featured for the Super Falcons at three FIFA World Cup finals (USA 1999, USA 2003 and China 2007); the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games; four Women Africa Cup of Nations finals (South Africa 2000, Nigeria 2002, Nigeria 2006 and Equatorial Guinea 2008) and; at the women’s football tournament of the 9th All-Africa Games in Algiers in 2007.
Akpeyi fears losing Eagles spot
Super Eagles goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi is bothered about the possibility of losing his place in the national due to limited playing time at his South African side Kaiser Chiefs.
The glovesman’s chances have been limited following the return to fitness of Chiefs’ number one Itumeleng Khune.
Akpeyi had held on for the legendary goalie but the Nigerian may have to revert to his back-up role and he has now explained his fears of losing his number one spot as the Super Eagles number one, adding he hopes the coaches will understand the dynamics at his club even if he is not playing regular football.
“Sometimes this game can be tricky but when you have someone who understands the dynamics of this game, who understands how things run,” continued the lanky keeper.
“I am in a team where I will not be playing 100% of games. That should be understood because there is no way that I can push Khune aside no matter if he is on form or not, he has this background that it would be difficult for you to push him out, I am just being honest about it,” noted the 33-year-old.
“But for whoever is the head [coach of Nigeria] as long as he understands the dynamics and how things work, as long as I am injury-free and doing my best here and the report gets to them it will be up to them to decide if they want to give me a chance and still believe I can make it work with the national team,” he said.
African Games:Ambassador rallies support for t’tennis team
The Nigeria Ambassador to Morocco, Baba Garba could not hide his passion for table tennis when he was on hand on Thursday August 22, to cheer the players during the quarterfinal tie against Morocco at the Salle Moulay El Hassan Hall, venue of the table tennis event of the 12th African Games in Rabat, Morocco.
The excited envoy charged the players to give their best and continue to put the country on world map with their outstanding performance in the sport.
The Ambassador was accompanied by some officials of the mission including the Head of Chancery, Adamu Ibrahim Gombe took time to chat with the players while urging ensure they pick the continental sole ticket to Tokyo 2020.
He however, promised to cheer the team in the finals which hold on Friday August 23, 2019.
“We just need to continue to inspire our athletes as my coming here is to motivate the players to give their best and make the country proud. We are excited with their performance and I am looking forward to cheering them during the finals,” the envoy said.
For Olufunke Oshonaike, the presence of the ambassador was commendable and we hope we can do our best to make it Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Tokyo 2020: Home-based Falcons fly to Algeria Saturday
The delegation of Senior Women National Team, Super Falcons, to next week’s 2020 Olympics qualifying match against the Senior Women National Team of Algeria will depart Nigeria on Saturday.
Head Coach Thomas Dennerby has already submitted a list of 18 home-based professionals who will do battle with the Algerians, following the inability of foreign-based players to make the trip due to various engagements with their clubs.
The delegation will fly aboard Turkish Airline into Istanbul and then connect to Algiers from Turkey’s commercial and economic capital.
Already, FIFA, has appointed officials from Mali to take charge of the clash, which the Algeria Football Federation has scheduled for the Stade Mustapha Tchaker in Blida (outside Algiers), to kick off at 7pm Algeria time (same time as in Nigeria) on Wednesday, August 28.
Teneba Bagayoko will be the referee, with her compatriots Mariam Coulibaly (assistant referee 1) and Djeneba Dembélé (assistant referee 2) also on duty. The fourth official will be Dorsaf Ganouati from Tunisia while Mana Dzodope from Togo will serve as referee assessor and Oumou Kane from Mauritania will be the match commissioner.
For the return leg in Nigeria, which the Nigeria Football Federation has scheduled for the Agege Stadium, Lagos on Tuesday, September 3, 2019, starting from 4pm, FIFA has appointed Zomadre Kore from Cote d’Ivoire to be the referee.
Her compatriots Lou Ta (assistant referee 1), Denise Akoua (assistant referee 2) and Fatoumata Kra (fourth official) will join her on the assignment. Ghanaian Emmanuella Aglago will serve as referee assessor and Cameroonian Souadatou Kalkaba will be match commissioner.
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