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Rohr drops Akpeyi for Ukraine friendly



Rohr drops Akpeyi for Ukraine friendly
  • Iheanacho, Ajayi, Ebuehi return

Super Eagles Manager Gernot Rohr has dropped goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi from his squad for international friendly with Ukraine scheduled for Dnipro Arena on September 10.

Akpeyi was Super Eagles first choice at the 2019 African Cup of Nations but his place in the team for the tie with Ukraine has been taken by Fortuna Dusseldorf of Germany goalkeeper Maduka Okoye who got his first international call up.

Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho and Semi Ajayi who were dropped at the eve of the last AFCON were also handed a return to the team for the friendly. Right back Tyrone Ebuehi who missed the tournament due to injury was also  in the 23-man list released on Wednesday.

The German tactician also dropped midfielder John Ogu and picked Joe Aribo from Glasgow Rangers, Scotland for the first time.

Skipper Ahmed Musa will lead the squad and new Everton winger Alex iwobi will also play a part in the tie.

Goalkeepers Francis Uzoho and Ikechukwu Ezenwa, defenders William Ekong, Kenneth Omeruo, Leon Balogun and Jamilu Collins, midfielders Wilfred Ndidi and Oghenekaro Etebo and forwards Victor Osimhen, Moses Simon, Henry Onyekuru and Samuel Chukwueze have also been called.

Ukraine is rated number 25 on the FIFA ranking while Nigeria is 33rd. 


Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Anorthosis Famagusta, Cyprus); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Heartland FC); Emil Maduka Okoye (Fortuna Dusseldorf, Germany)

Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Tyronne Ebuehi (FC Benfica, Portugal); Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto, Portugal); William Ekong (Udinese FC, Italy); Leon Balogun

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Everton sack Marco Silva after 18 months in charge



Everton sack Marco Silva after 18 months in charge

Everton have sacked manager Marco Silva after 18 months, with the club in the Premier League relegation zone after their Merseyside derby humiliation.
Wednesday’s 5-2 defeat by Liverpool at Anfield was their ninth of the season and leaves them 18th in the Premier League after three successive losses.
Silva, who took charge in May 2018, won 24 and lost 24 of his 60 games, reports the BBC.
Former striker Duncan Ferguson has been put in temporary charge and will manage the side against Chelsea on Saturday.
The club said they aim to appoint a new manager “as swiftly as possible”.
Everton are now searching for their fourth permanent boss since Roberto Martinez was sacked in May 2016.
Former Everton manager David Moyes has been considered as a potential interim successor, but the suggestion has sparked a largely negative reaction from supporters and it remains to be seen whether majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri and his boardroom colleagues ignore that and invite the 56-year-old Scot to return.
Moyes spent 11 years as Everton manager, and his return has been seen by fans as a retrograde step given his lack of success since leaving for Manchester United in 2013.
He was sacked at United and Real Socieded and was in charge of Sunderland when they were relegated from the Premier League before having a short spell at West Ham.
It has been suggested that if Moyes does return he could bring another Everton old boy, Tim Cahill, back as his assistant.
Portuguese Silva, 42, is the fifth managerial dismissal in the Premier League this season, after the departures of Javi Gracia – who had replaced Silva at Vicarage Road – and Quique Sanchez Flores from Watford, as well as Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino and Arsenal’s Unai Emery.
Former Hull City boss Silva succeeded Sam Allardyce at Goodison Park. He was brought in with the hope of his side playing more attractive football and backed with almost £90m of signings in the summer of 2018.
Everton finished eighth in Silva’s first campaign but, after spending more than £100m on players in the summer, they have won just four league games this season.
The Toffees face a tricky run of league fixtures over the next month when they face Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City, and also Leicester in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals.
After Martinez was dismissed in 2016, Ronald Koeman led Everton into the Europa League in his first season in charge, but was sacked after the club fell into the relegation zone following a poor start to his second campaign.
David Unsworth then lost five of eight games as interim boss, while Allardyce made way following an eighth-placed finish after fans frequently expressed their displeasure at the lack of attacking flair under the former England coach.
Not so Silva linings…
Silva has now had three jobs in English football that have all ultimately ended in failure and been characterised by promising starts followed by steep declines.
In his four months in charge of Hull, his side accumulated 17 points from his first 11 games – but only four from the next seven as they were relegated from the Premier League.
Two days after leaving the Tigers, Silva joined Watford in May 2017 and took the team into the top four during his first few months in charge.
His side took 21 points from 13 games but the Hornets only won once in his next 11 matches, before Silva was sacked in January 2018.
Some of this was attributed by the Vicarage Road hierarchy to Everton’s approach for Silva the previous November – before hiring Allardyce.
Watford fiercely resisted the Toffees’ unwanted advances and complained to the Premier League with a demand for compensation.
He was eventually appointed Everton boss in May 2018 and won 22 points from his first 13 league games in charge, but has only taken 42 points from the following 38 matches.
Before his time in England, Silva guided Estoril into the Portuguese top flight and they qualified for the Europa League the following season.
In one season at Sporting Lisbon he won the Portuguese Cup, and in his year at Olympiakos, who he also managed in the Champions League, he took them to the Greek league title.

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The collapse of AFN’s house of deceit



The collapse of AFN’s house of deceit

The Ibrahim Gusau led AFN board, built on electoral fraud by strange bedfellows, finally collapsed on Tuesday. The Federal Ministry of Sports and Social Development, which provided the sub-standard materials for its erection, also provided the bulldozer for its demolition OLUKAYODE THOMAS reports



IF you have witnessed an incidence of the National Union of Road and Transport Workers (NURTW) members taking over a park from a rival group, you surely have a mental picture of the violence that characterized the election, or better put, the imposition, of Ibrahim Gusau as the President of AFN on June 13, 2017 by hired thugs and policemen, while officials of Sports Ministry looked the other way.

Save for firing gun shots and the use of cutlasses, all the elements of the violent takeover of parks by Agberos were present at the National Stadium, Abuja, venue of the “election”.

From the use of horse whips, batons and other handy weapons to beat opponents, many light weapons were used to subdue opposition.

Injuries sustained by Olympics medallist, Charity Opara, and others may have healed but the humiliation will be etched in their hearts forever.

The perpetuators of the dastardly act did not just use the Agbero style, they also copied Nigerian politicians.

The voters’ list was changed a few hours before elections. Rosa Collins, winner of the NIWAS slot on the board was removed and replaced by Gloria Obajimi.  Brown Ebewele suddenly became Gad Onamugbu while Solomon Ogba suddenly became Hammed Adio.

Also disenfranchised were Haruna Bako from North East and Charles Yayock from North West.

While Charity Opara was disqualified because she had tested positive to performance enhancing drugs, Mary Onyali who has equally tested positive to drugs was allowed to contest.

The 2017 election guideline allows for independent candidates. While Onyali was allowed to contest for the position of Vice Presidency against Olamide George as independent candidate, this reporter and several others were barred from contesting.

The outrage that greeted the electoral fraud was unprecedented. Though, minor adjustments were made here and there, still, Gusau’s tainted election endured.

Spoils of Office Scattered Gusau’s House of Sand

Like a house built on sand instead of rock, Gusau’s house of deceit built by strange bedfellows collapsed after two weeks. Once elected, Gusau dumped jobbers who were scheming for the position and made his right-hand man; Sunday Adeleye, Technical Director.

A Virginia USA based former jumper, who claim to be a coach in USA but has no relevance in the USA unless in Team Nigeria, Gusau’s Vice-President George, and others including Ebewele, Gabriel Okon, and Tafida Gadzama were sidelined by Gusau.

With the backing of the Sports Ministry, efforts were made to silence Gusau’s main opponent George. An athlete, Folasade Abugan had alleged some time ago that George gave her performance enhancing drugs. The case was exhumed, George was suspended from the board and a panel was set up to probe him. However, the panel refused to be used to indict him.

IAAF’s Missing Money and Gusau’s Refusal to be the Fall Guy

For all that the Sports Ministry had done for him, Sports Ministry officials expected Gusau to be the fall guy for the IAAF missing $150,000.00.

At the time the IAAF sent the money to AFN, there was no board in place. Amaechi Akawo, the scribe of AFN informed his senior colleagues, who authorized the spending of the money.

When heat from the IAAF for a refund became too much for Gusau, he was said to have leaked letters from IAAF to the press, demanding a refund. When the Sports Ministry refused to refund the money after several promises, Gusau went to ICPC and was calling for a probe.

This no doubt infuriated Sports Ministry officials.

Akawo a smart civil (Obasanjo would say evil) servant was arrested. Akawo kept all the documents of approval he got to spend the money. The ICPC had no choice but to release him since he was following the directives of his Ogas at the top.

Gusau’s decision to go to ICPC was a false start which earned a straight red card from the Sports Ministry. George, Ebewele and others who were not in the good books of the Ministry suddenly became ministry darlings and nocturnal meetings were held to plot how Gusau would be impeached.

His Wrong Directive and World Athletics Ban

The new Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, carried on where his predecessor had stopped. Probably wrongly briefed by the staff of the Sports Ministry and his SA Mary Onyali, who has done nothing but athletics all her life and therefore should have known better.

Using our unimpressive performance at the Doha 2019 and several technical gaffes committed by Adeleye as excuse, the Minister began interfering in the running of AFN, when an elected board is in place.

True, Team Nigeria did poorly in Doha but the Minister does not have the power to probe an elected board.

A country blessed with technical geniuses worth their weight in gold like Innocent Egbunike and Yussuf Alli deserves better than Adeleye as Technical Director, but if Adeleye is the choice of the board, so be it. The Minister does not have the power to sack him nor ask the board to do so, that is direct interference.

A decision taken by the Sports Ministry’s Legal Department to remove Adeleye as Athlete Representative was hurriedly implemented, though the Ministry does not have such power. They even sent a letter on Ministry letterhead to AFN asking for Adeleye’s removal.

The audio recording of the planned impeachment of Gusau, which leaked hours before the planned action and appointment of the Ministers’ kinsman Niyi Beyioku as AFN Secretary General, clearly indicates that the Minister and his advisers are wearing canvass for a 100m race while Gusau is wearing spikes.

Insinuations that the Sports Ministry was fully behind the Tuesday meeting where Gusau was suspended and that the Minister was looking for Seb Coe’s telephone number to brief him after Gusau’s suspension are not good for his image of Nigeria.

If Gusau should send the above and other evidence, including ministerial directives to World Athletics, Team Nigeria athletics could be suspended from participation in international athletics competition, including Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Padmozi, Nilayo and Questions Dare Needs to Ask

Instead of being seen to be partisan in the ongoing crisis in AFN, Dare should instead ask the gladiators what they have done for athletics in their states and zones.

Charity, they say, begins at home. If the six zonal representatives; Gusau-North West, Amanze North Central, Gadzama North East, George South West, Patrick South East, and Gabriel Okon South-South so love athletics, let them show the love by developing the sport in their states and zones first.

Their zones are bigger, richer and have more talents than Jamaica. What have they done to develop athletics in their zones? Being a zonal representative gives you access to a minimum of five governors and countless corporate bodies. What success have they achieved at home?

Mike Itumeaghor of Padmozi Sports, the owner of Okpekpe 10km Road Race, an IAAF Silver Label Race and Bukola Olopade of Nilayo Sports, owner and consultant to races like Access Bank Lagos City Marathon (IAAF Silver Label Race), Abeokuta 10km Road Race, Remo IAU Ultra Run and proposed Abuja, Uyo and Ijebu-Ode Road Race are citizens whose service to athletics surpasses that of any of these guys fighting for the soul of AFN.

Dare should advise those fighting to destroy our sports to wait till after the Olympics next year and contest instead of killing athletics through incessant crisis.

I was barred from contesting during the last election; I have moved on, I still contribute to athletics. If I desire to serve on the board of AFN again, I will wait till the next election. I won’t burn the house of athletics that has given me a name, recognition, 36 media awards, locally and internationally, including two as CNN African Journalist of the Year just because Solomon Dalung and some officials of Sports Ministry stopped me from contesting election.

Dare needs to distance himself from both the Gusau Group and George Group and concentrate on rescuing our sports. Federation politics is muddier than APC and PDP politics.

Ebewele, Ogba and Asaba ‘missing’ $150k

Brown Ebewele and Solomon Ogba have been cat and mouse friends for several decades.

Each time Ebewele makes new friends, he enjoys bashing Ogba with the tongue of vituperation in his loquacious mouth, which is okay. They are friends, as long as Ogba is okay with his friend.

But Ebewele needs to start engaging his brain more before talking, especially when such statements are not just about Ogba.

Ebewele’s attack on the Asaba 2018 LOC shows shallow thinking. Beyond his friend Ogba, men and women who served on the board of Asaba 2018 LOC include a former private secretary to President Umoru Yar’Dua and other distinguished Nigerians. For Ebewele to insinuate that $150,000 is missing is sheer recklessness.

Unlike the IAAF money that his new friends in the Sports Ministry wacked and IAAF demanded a refund of the balance, which Dare recently paid, the CAA has not said their money is missing nor are they demanding a refund.

For the information of Ebewele and other mischief makers, the CAA grant was not a grant to Team Nigeria or AFN. It was their contribution to the organisation of Asaba 2018. The money, just like other donations, grants and sponsorship money was paid into the LOC account.

Ebewele revealed that when he was Technical Director of AFN, they got about $90,000 to prepare for a junior championship in Ibadan. What he did not tell the media was that he organized the worst championships in the history of CAA. He did not tell the media that the President of CAA then, Lamine Diack, who later became IAAF President and other dignitaries, including athletes were locked out of their hotel room because they did not pay hoteliers. He did not also tell the media that he was sacked for incompetence and other reasons he would not want revealed.

Instead of making false claims about the LOC of Asaba 2018, Ebewele, the technical representative on the board of AFN should go for a refresher course so that next time they call on him to organize a race, he won’t be sacked again like it happened with the Okpekpe 10km Road Race when he was sacked after just one edition because of shoddy organization.

I wish him good luck with his new ephemeral friends. If being an illegal Technical Director, a position he occupied legally two decades ago, is what is giving him erection to misyarn, he should limit it to his friend Ogba and not the LOC of Asaba 2018.

Thomas, a reporter, was the Head of Communications and Media Asaba 2018.

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Give Ljungberg time, Henry tells Arsenal fans



Give Ljungberg time, Henry tells Arsenal fans

Arsenal legend Thierry Henry has warned that it will take time for Freddie Ljungberg to stamp his mark on the side after taking over the managerial reins from Unai Emery. The Swedish coach – who played alongside Henry for eight years in north London – took over on Friday after the dismissal of Emery and took charge of his first game just 48 hours later.

Arsenal have not won a match in the Premier League since the start of October against Bournemouth and that run continued with a 2-2 draw away to Norwich on Sunday, reports

Henry admits the performance was virtually identical to what has been seen week in, week out under Emery and has stressed that Ljungberg needs a lot more than just one training session to implement his ideas and turn things around.

Asked how Ljungberg got on in his first match in charge, Henry said on Amazon Prime: “Well I think what we’ve seen so far, it’s very difficult to change anything in I think he had one session, or two maybe. “It’s virtually impossible to change anything. And what we saw is what I’ve seen before. [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang scored two goals and we escaped – when I say ‘we’ you know why.

“But that’s what I saw, you know, without the goals of Aubameyang I don’t know where we would have been right now.

“So it’s interesting to see how we are going to play against Brighton, and see what Freddie is about. Because that game [against Norwich] was very difficult to see what was happening really.”

Ljungberg and assistant Per Mertesacker have had more time to work with the squad ahead of Thursday night’s clash with Brighton at the Emirates.

The Swede is believed to have clashed with predecessor Emery over Arsenal’s tactical approach prior to the Spaniard’s dismissal and appeared to be trying to get the team to play quicker, more incisive football in training footage this week.

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Ballon d’Or: Messi sends message to Sadio Mane



Ballon d’Or: Messi sends message to Sadio Mane

Lionel Messi admits it’s ‘a shame’ to see Liverpool forward Sadio Mane finish fourth in the Ballon d’Or rankings for 2019.

Mane has been a pivotal figure in Liverpool’s attack this year, helping the club win the Champions League and playing a key role in the team’s Premier League title push.

Mane also scored three goals at the Africa Cup of Nations this summer but his Senegal side were beaten by Algeria in the final.

Messi voted for Mane to win the FIFA The Best award earlier this year, although it was Barcelona’s talisman who ended up winning the prize, reports

And the Argentine was full of praise for the Liverpool forward after he won a record sixth Ballon d’Or trophy earlier this week. “It’s a shame to see Mane finish in fourth place,” Messi told Canal+.

“But I think there have been a lot of great players this year. That’s why it was difficult to choose a particular player.

“But I chose Sadio Mane because he’s a player that I like.

“Mane achieved a great year that was exceptional for the entire Liverpool team. That’s why I chose him.

“I repeat, there were a lot of very great players this year, so the choice was difficult.”

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Joshua v Ruiz II: ‘I’m punching like a horse kick’



Joshua v Ruiz II: ‘I’m punching like a horse kick’

Anthony Joshua says he is “punching like a horse kicking backwards” and holds “no fear” going into his highly anticipated rematch with Andy Ruiz Jr.

At a charged final face-off next to the Diriyah Arena where the two fight in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, Ruiz, 30, warned there is “no way” he will lose.

Joshua added he will weigh in lighter than the 17st 9lbs he posted before his New York defeat as part of a new plan.

“I may be less than 17 stone,” he told BBC Sport.¹

“I’m punching loose and heavy – rhythm and flow,” the 30-year-old added. “Before I was trying to bench-press a house. I used my body to get where I needed but then I started realising the sweet science of the sport.

“I am punching like a horse kicking backwards right now.”

Mind games, no fear and team chants

Joshua has not weighed less than 17st since 2014 and 5 Live analyst Steve Bunce said his projected weight was a “stunning revelation”.

Ruiz, perhaps playing mind games, arrived at the news conference sporting a New York Knicks jersey. Joshua was housed in the changing room of the NBA franchise for the first bout, where he suffered one of the most shocking defeats in heavyweight history and lost the IBF, WBA and WBO world titles.

As the pair faced off, Joshua’s team shouted “two times” behind him in reference of his chance to win the world titles for a second time. Ruiz’s team responded, shouting “and still” as the camera flashes lit up both men.

Joshua, who had his final six-round spar on Tuesday, was asked if winning the belts back would be a career high and replied: “I was asked if it will be a special moment and said ‘no’ as I know I belong there.

“When I got back from New York, I didn’t lose any heart or fire in my belly and started punching the heavy bag preparing for this day. There is no fear in my heart, my eyes or mind, I am confident.”

Ruiz’s pledge and Hearn’s defiant stance

The venue for the news conference and fight – on the outskirts of Riyadh in Diriyah – are flanked by a fairground and a stage that will host US artist Usher and Chris Brown on Friday.

The world’s best-paid fighter Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson are expected to attend a fight that has been widely criticised as a result of the host country’s human rights record.

Those involved have made no secret of the financial motivation to come here – with Joshua set to earn upwards of £50m – and promoter Eddie Hearn defiantly told reporters it was “a wonderful, wonderful decision”.

Ruiz described Saudi Arabia as “the perfect place to make history” and his stunning stoppage win six months ago ranked high in the sport’s archive of upsets.

Asked if he held any fear over the kind of power that saw Joshua knock him down in New York, he told BBC Sport: “Not really. I was the one who had the strength, the one backing him up. When I jabbed I pushed him away.

“I know he lost weight and that he will try and box me around, so it’s my job to prevent that.

“I have been doing this since I was six and it is finally paying off. There is no way I am going to let these belts go, I will die trying. It has been a rollercoaster and now that I made the dreams come true there is no way I will let these go.”

‘I brought the roughest and toughest’

Joshua’s back-to-basics approach for the bout has been well documented and he again said he had no interest in delivering a “show” but was just “here to win”.

His promoter Hearn has expressed how nervous he is given his marquee fighter would slip down the heavyweight pecking order with a second defeat.

Joshua’s trainer Rob McCracken, who faced criticism after the first loss, said his fighter was “in a much better place” this time around.

And Joshua told BBC Sport’s Mike Costello defeat made him use his “time wisely” in prioritising his skills over other aspects of training.

“When Muhammad Ali was training he said he would build a shack to train in,” added Joshua.

“There are clues to success and you have to go back to what it takes to be a great heavyweight champion. We had to bring in hard, rough sparring partners. I brought in the toughest and roughest.”

‘I think Ruiz wins again’

Former world heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman attended Wednesday’s news conference and repeated comparisons have been drawn between Ruiz’s win over Joshua and his own surprise triumph over Lennox Lewis in 2001.

Rahman stunned Joshua’s compatriot, only to lose a rematch by knockout seven months later.

Rahman told BBC Sport: “I would have Ruiz go straight out for it from round one, take Joshua back to the last round of the first fight. If I’m in Anthony’s corner I am going to a Wladimir Klitschko-style jab and grab.

“I am leaning at the moment to Ruiz by knockout. I just think Joshua has lost weight. I didn’t see him with much fat to lose. I feel he may have lost muscle and that can be detrimental. He could win a decision if he executes perfectly and uses his distance. But if Andy hits him, Andy will finish him.”

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VAR to be used in Euro 2020 play-offs, 2022 World Cup qualifying



VAR to be used in Euro 2020 play-offs, 2022 World Cup qualifying

VAR will be used in qualifying play-offs for the European Championship next year and is set to be introduced in qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup.

Video assistant referees were trialled at the 2017 Confederations Cup before being used at the World Cup in Russia.

However, VAR was not present during Euro 2020 qualifying matches, reports the BBC.

UEFA, European football’s governing body, agreed on Wednesday to introduce it for March’s play-offs but FIFA needs to approve it for World Cup qualifiers.

Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic will all be involved in the play-offs.

The system has been used for the first time in the Premier League this season.

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EPL: ‘Dominant’ McTominay helped United secure victory – Mourinho



EPL: ‘Dominant’ McTominay helped United secure victory – Mourinho

Jose Mourinho singled out ‘dominant’ Scott McTominay for his performance in Manchester United’s win over Tottenham on Wednesday evening.

Dele Alli had cancelled out Marcus Rashford’s opener before half-time but shortly after the break, the United striker converted a penalty to secure a 2-1 victory for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

Meanwhile, McTominay was playing his first game in 24 days having been sidelined with an ankle injury but the Scotland international impressed in United’s midfield, reports

“They had more emotion than us,” Mourinho said after the game.

“You see for example, McTominay’s performance, the globality of his performance, he was dominant. He was dominant.”

Mourinho also revealed that he warned his Tottenham players about McTominay’s tenacity before the match.

“Even in the previous three matches where we won we didn’t start well,” the Spurs boss said.

“The team is not starting matches well, they are finding it a little bit difficult to find the intensity and the aggression of the game.

“I told them about Old Trafford, I told them about some of their players.

“Like for example, McTominay the way they immediately show aggression in the beginning of the game.

“Rashford even going to press the keeper. “This kind of attitude that shows initially intensity. But we were not in the game in the beginning.

“Then after that we had the ball, we played, we score, we could create even more.

“In the second half I thought clearly we could come to the game and be in control of it like we finished the first half, we concede a goal that is impossible to concede.

“It’s a throw-in, we were sleeping, the throw-in is done and we have no control, then of course what happened inside the box is a consequence of everything that came from the throw-in.”

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EPL: Rashford ruins Mourinho’s Old Trafford return as Wolves, Saints win



EPL: Rashford ruins Mourinho’s Old Trafford return as Wolves, Saints win

The sight of Marcus Rashford in smooth and pacy flow – the components of his thrilling technique in sync from first to last – would once have delighted José Mourinho. Not here. Mourinho had wanted to mark his return to Manchester United with a fourth win on the spin with Tottenham; to make his biggest statement yet with his new club.

Instead, Rashford comprehensively upstaged him, scoring both of the goals in a United victory that ought to have been more emphatic, such was their first-half domination, to provide his current manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, with a sorely needed tonic.

Solskjær had overseen United’s worst start to a season since 1988 but, not for the first time at this venue, his team raised their levels against a rival with pedigree. It had been a similar story in the win over Chelsea and the draw against Liverpool.

Rashford scored early on and the winner, after Dele Alli’s moment of sorcery had temporarily hauled Spurs level, came from a penalty that he had won himself. It is now 12 goals at club level for him this season – with nine in his last 10 appearances – but it was his all-round game that propelled United to the result. They will approach Saturday’s derby at Manchester City with greater optimism. For Mourinho, this was a bump in the road.

Mourinho had wanted to stress how this was not about him. He is so humble, remember. Yet his presence in the dugout was the principal sideshow, at the very least. He was always going to be welcomed back with respect by the United diehards, who never turned on him even towards the bitter end of his Old Trafford tenure, although there were no chants for him at any point during the game.

The home crowd would instead run through their repertoire of Solskjær songs after their team started on the front foot and forged ahead. It was a goal that owed plenty to the power in Rashford’s right boot and, also, a misjudgment at his near post by Paulo Gazzaniga.

And Jamie Vardy and James Maddison scored as Leicester beat bottom-club Watford to climb back to second in the Premier League.

After a goalless first half, Vardy fired the hosts ahead from the penalty spot after Adam Masina had fouled Jonny Evans.

Maddison then made sure of the win in stoppage time, breaking away before slipping the ball past Ben Foster in the Watford goal.

And Once the tributes to John Terry were done, Chelsea got on with showing their former captain the future. There is no place for sentiment in the heat of battle and Frank Lampard’s academy products made sure Aston Villa’s assistant manager did not enjoy his big homecoming too much, earning three important points thanks to excellent goals from Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount.

This was a fine victory for Chelsea after their aberration against West Ham. Mount was back to his enterprising best in midfield and Lampard’s side, sitting pretty in fourth place, did well to regain their poise after gifting Villa a soft equaliser on the stroke of half-time. Chelsea created countless chances during the second half and Terry must have known the visitors, a point above the bottom three, were fortunate not to lose by more.

Chelsea could not afford to let the nostalgia spilling from the stands blur their focus. They had to ignore the fuss over Terry’s return to the club he captained for 13 glorious years and they had to be ruthless after stumbling against West Ham last weekend. There have been too many slow starts from Chelsea at home this season and they bristled with intensity from the first whistle, pinning Villa back and dominating a lopsided first half.

At St. Mary’s With a handful of minutes left to play, Southampton did not know what to do with themselves, unsure whether to eke their way through stoppage time or find a third goal to kill the game.

They retreated until they could no more, surviving to see off Norwich City. Such trepidation was understandable given March was the last time they recorded back-to-back league wins.

Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side held on to savour victory, with first-half goals by Danny Ings and Ryan Bertrand paving the way for victory to delight supporters, who have been starved of these kind of gritty displays for too long.

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EPL: Reds pile pressure on Silva with derby win



EPL: Reds pile pressure on Silva with derby win

Liverpool pushed Everton manager Marco Silva closer to the sack and retained their eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League with a crushing win at Anfield which dropped the Toffees into the relegation zone.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, already missing suspended goalkeeper Alisson and injured Fabinho, still felt able to rest key attacking duo Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino from his starting line-up and win in comfort.

Liverpool effectively won the game with four goals in the first half – Sadio Mane creating two early strikes for Divock Origi and the recalled Xherdan Shaqiri, reports the BBC.

Michael Keane pulled one back for shambolic Everton but Liverpool were soon back in control when Origi controlled Dejan Lovren’s pass for a brilliant third and Mane got the goal he deserved when he crowned a sweeping counter-attack from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s inviting delivery.

Richarlison took advantage of Liverpool’s own vulnerable defending to make it 4-2 on the stroke of half-time but in reality Everton were never seriously in contention at any point.

The question now, as Everton lie in the bottom three, is how long the beleaguered Silva can survive, with Chelsea scheduled to visit Goodison Park on Saturday lunchtime.

Silva, 42, is suffering a slow, lingering demise as Everton manager – and this dismal showing is only likely to hasten his exit from Goodison Park.

This was a Liverpool side nowhere near full strength but the game was up for Silva and Everton once they were two down inside 17 minutes.

Silva’s five-man defensive system was ripped to shreds, by Mane in particular, and it was no surprise when he removed defender Djibril Sidibe before half-time to introduce Brazilian attacker Bernard.

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AFN declares autonomy



AFN declares autonomy
  • CAA secretary attends Congress as Gusau sues for peace
  • Ebewele, Okon, Collins, others suspended


The ongoing crisis in the Athletic Federation of Nigeria deepens as the board led by the elected president of the federation, Ibrahim Gusau, on Wednesday at their Extra-ordinary Congress in Awka, Anambra State, declared its autonomy from the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.

The Secretary General of the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA), Mr Lamine Faty, said at the Congress that it was his constitutional right to be in Awka for the event.

He added that coming was part of his ranks as the Secretary as he acknowledged the Congress.

According to the resolutions of the Congress which has in attendance the chairmen and secretaries the decision to declare its autonomy/independence was in line with international practices and in conformity with the statutes of the World Athletics (formerly IAAF) and the Confederation of African Athletics.

The congress approved the suspension of other board members like the vice president, Olamide George, Brown Ebewele, Gabriel Okon, Rosa Collins (MS), DIG Sani Mohammed (rtd) and Fidelis Gadzama, for two calendar years with effect from December 4, 2019 for anti-federation activities and gross violation of the provision of the federation’s constitution.

It would be recalled that seven members of the board met at the Package A of the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abuja on Tuesday to ratify Gusau’s suspension.

The members, who included the now acting President Olamide George, alleged that their embattled boss was guilty of power abuse and misappropriation of funds, which was against the spirit of the game and deserved to be suspended.

The board also announced that a committee to investigate the impropriety of the embattled president will soon be inaugurated so as to ascertain the level of his culpability.

The AFN also ratified the removal of erstwhile Technical Director Sunday Adeleye as Athletics Representative on the board.

The board said it received a petition signed by 137 athletes, asking that Adeleye be removed as their representative on the board.

With the crack in the wall of the AFN at the moment, the preparation of the country’s athletes towards the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games might be in jeopardy.

Speaking with journalists at the end of the congress, the embattled president said the federation needed peace hence their decision to be independent.

According to Gusau, the meeting in Awka was the accurate one and discounted the board meeting that suspended him as the president.

He added that working with the ministry has stopped them from getting sponsors in the past while citing interference as a major problem affecting AFN.

“We have tried to reach out to sponsors and all what they are saying was if we are with government, they cannot give us money and the interference we are talking about getting too much,” Gusau said.

“We don’t want that to continue and for us, we really want to have a smooth working federation that will achieve success. Right now, we are trying to replicate what’s obtainable internationally in Nigeria. We have declared that, if there are no more government funds, we are good like that.

“When you don’t have peace while trying to get things done, and they are accusing you of getting dismal performance when they are not there to support you, we are trying to have peace and that’s what we are doing. If pulling away from the ministry will give us peace, then we are ready.”

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