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Ukraine friendly: Rohr extends fresh invitation to Idowu, Esiti

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Ukraine friendly: Rohr extends fresh invitation to Idowu, Esiti

Super Eagels handler, Gernot Rohr has invited  Anderson Esiti as replacement for the injured Wilfred Ndidi for the international friendly with Ukraine in Dnipro on September 10.

The Franco German tactician also sent a fresh invitation to Bryan Idowu for the Ukraine friendly.

The Nigeria Football Federation NFF confirmed that PAOK FC of Greece midfielder Anderson Esiti has been invited to take the spot vacated by the injured Ndidi who picked up a knock while on duty at his English Premier League club Leicester City.

Confirming the reports on their official social media page, the country’s number one football body also revealed that another invitation has been extended to Idowu, taking the total number of players expected for the September 10 friendly to 24.

The 25-year-old Esiti only recently joined the reigning Greek champions after excelling for Belgium’s Gent. A defensive midfielder of repute, the Warri-born star will be making his third appearance for the Eagles if he features against the Yellow Men.

Locomotive Moscow of Russia’s left-back Idowu, however, was part of the Super Eagles squad to the 2018 FIFA World Cup but missed out on the party to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations where Nigeria picked a bronze medal.

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Olympics Eagles were unlucky – Amapakabo

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Olympics Eagles were unlucky – Amapakabo

Nigeria U-23 coach Imama Amapakabo has said his side were unlucky to crash out of the ongoing CAF U-23 African Cup of Nations in the group stage, missing the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games ticket.

 

The team played a goalless draw with South Africa in Cairo on Friday which was not enough for them to progress to the semifinal of the U-23 AFCON putting the coach under intense criticism.

 

“We were unlucky and unfortunate to go out because we gave everything, but it’s totally out of my hands,” he told BBC.

 

“I know that, as a coach, you come under pressure. We have to look at the future – this [Olympic hopes] has ended, whichever way we want to look at it.”

 

 

Africa’s most successful side at the Games, Nigeria went out of the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations on Friday with questions raised about Amapakabo’s future following the country’s poor results under his watch.

 

The Super Eagles B side failed to qualify for the 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN) and his team also suffered an embarrassing early exit at the regional WAFU Cup tournament in October.

 

Amapakabo is aware that his position has become untenable following his recent failure, but said that it is up to his employers to make a decision on his future.

 

 

“I can’t say anything now because it all depends on what the federation wants in terms of going forward.” he added.

 

Nigeria – bronze medallists at Rio 2016 – won the 1996 Olympic football tournament and are the first African country to complete an Olympic medal sweep having won a sliver medal in Beijing in 2008.

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AFCON 2021 qualifiers: Eagles whip Lesotho 4-2

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AFCON 2021 qualifiers: Eagles whip Lesotho 4-2

Victor Osimhen scored twice as the Super Eagles defeated Lesotho 4-2 in 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifiers Match Day 2 tie at the Setsoto stadium on Sunday.

 

 

Alex Iwobi and Samuel Chukwueze were also on score sheet for Nigeria while Chidozie Awaziem conceded an own goal.

 

 

Manager Gernot Rohr made two changes to the starting line-up that beat Benin Republic in Uyo five days ago, with Moses Simon and Awaziem coming into the side at the expense of Samuel Kalu and Jamilu Collins respectively.

 

 

Lesotho took the lead against the run of play when Masoabi Nkoto took advantage of some lax Nigeria defending to put the hosts ahead after eleven minutes following a cross from the left channel.

 

 

But the lead would only last till the 26th minute when Osimhen led the Super Eagles press, charging down the right to set up Iwobi who slotted home from close range.

 

 

The duo of Chukwueze and Osimhen looked particularly dangerous on the break and alongside Simon, who tested goalkeeper Ntsane Lichaba with a ferocious drive from a free-kick.

 

 

On the 36th minute, Osimhen was at it again when he found space to ping in a lob which Chukwueze got on the end of to beat Lichaba with a good header.

 

 

The Lille striker was proving too difficult to handle for The Crocodiles, as he would yet threaten after the break when he rattled the cross bar with a shot.

 

 

He will then get his goal deep into the game when Ola Aina broke free from the right flank to play him in for a neat finish and take the game to 3-1.

 

 

Osimhen made it 4-1 on the 84th minute mark when impressive second half substitute Ramon Azeez shrugged off his marker to find the long-limbed front man who rounded Lichaba to grab his brace as Nigeria looked all but set to close out 2019 in style.

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Osimhen wants Yekini’s crown

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Osimhen wants Yekini’s crown

Victor Osimhen says he wants to do well for the national team and be remembered as one of the greatest strikers that ever played for the Super Eagles.

 

 

The former youth international who scored Nigeria’s first goal in the 2021 AFCON qualifying match against Benin, has set his sights on becoming the Super Eagles’ greatest striker of all time.

 

 

“I want to be remembered as one of the greatest strikers that ever played for the Super Eagles,” the Forward told www.brila.net.

 

“A lot of strikers have come through the national team, the likes of Odion Ighalo, Obafemi Martins, Julius Aghahowa and the legend Rashidi Yekini and they did quite well.”

 

 

The 20 year-old spoke about how he wants to surpass the record set by Nigeria’s all time top scorer,Rashidi Yekini, who netted 37 goals in 58 appearances.

 

“I want to really do well, and even surpass their goal tally for the national team but it is not just about my ambition but also for the team to achieve everything they want to accomplish and what the country has set for themselves in terms of football and I’m working so hard to get there.”

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Baby Face, Bobby Girl shine at 1st GOtv Boxing Night Mini

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Baby Face, Bobby Girl shine at 1st GOtv Boxing Night Mini

West African Boxing Union welterweight champion, Rilwan “Baby Face” Babatunde, and rising female super featherweight boxer, Cynthia “Bobby Girl” were the standout performers at the maiden edition of GOtv Boxing Night Mini, which held on Saturday at the Rowe Park Sports Complex in Lagos.

 

Baby Face was all menace and speed, knocking out Saheed Lawal in the third of their eight-round national challenge duel. Lawal, who was a replacement for Dennis “The Range” Mbat, who pulled out on account of an accident, gave a good account of himself in terms of defiance. But the WABU champion’s volume punching at velocity was too much for him, as he was quickly in a daze, forcing the referee to stop the fight.

 

 

Ogunsemilore, who won her fight by knockout at GOtv Boxing Night 19, confirmed her status as a boxer to watch out for. She defeated Roliat “Mummy’s Pet” Akinsanya by unanimous decision in a thrilling super featherweight bout. The Range boxer exhibited composure and guile beyond her age to outwit her similarly impressive opponent. In the lightweight category, WABU champion, Rilwan “Real One” Oladosu, stopped Ola Adebakin in the first of the scheduled eight rounds. Waheed “Showmax” Shogbanmu got the better of Semiu “Jagaban” Olapade.

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Shake-up imminent at NFF secretariat

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Shake-up imminent at NFF secretariat

…as Minister dangles the axe after strings of poor results

 

 

The Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare, is worried stiff over the way the country’s football fortunes have been on the decline in the past few weeks and the poor results could lead to a shake-up in the secretariat of the Nigeria Football Federation.

 

 

Dare was reacting to the recent ouster of the Nigerian team from the U-23 AFCON taking place in Egypt.

 

 

The team, under the tutelage of coach Imama Amakapabo, drew goalless with South Africa in a match that the country needed a win. The team had earlier lost 1-0 to Cote d’ Ivoire while the 3-1 win in the second group match was not good enough for Nigeria to book a semifinal berth.

 

Egypt, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa are still in the race for the three automatic tickets to the football event of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, last year.

 

 

The debacle in Egypt followed the Golden Eagles’ early ouster from the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil and the failure of the Super Falcons to qualify for the Olympics.

 

 

The Flying Eagles had earlier crashed out of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in the second round this year and Nigeria also had an unimpressive showing at WAFU tournament.

 

 

Our correspondent learnt that Dare was worried about the vicissitude of fortune of Nigerian football and is ready to effect a ‘surgical operation’ in the game.

 

 

Authoritative sources close to the minister revealed that there might be changes in the secretariat of the federation this week in line with the thinking of the ministry.

 

 

“He knows he can’t touch the NFF board but he will carry out the reorganization of the secretariat. He is passionate about initiating reviews of the game and he sees a well-structured and functional secretariat as an important process. He will wield the big sticks this week,” the source said.

 

 

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Ronaldo hits 99th goal as Portugal make Euros

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Ronaldo hits 99th goal as Portugal make Euros

Cristiano Ronaldo was made to wait for his 100th international goal as defending champions Portugal edged past Luxembourg to qualify for Euro 2020.

 

 

 

Fernando Santos’ 2016 winners required victory to confirm second spot in Group B and finish three points clear of Serbia, who drew 2-2 against Ukraine.

 

 

 

Ronaldo tapped in his 99th goal to seal victory with four minutes remaining.

 

 

 

Bernardo Silva’s ball over the top had allowed Bruno Fernandes to fire the visitors ahead after 39 minutes.

 

 

Ronaldo must wait until the next international break in March for the chance to become just the second male player to reach 100 goals for his nation.

 

 

 

 

He is now just 10 behind Iran legend Ali Daei’s world-record tally of 109, after ensuring his most prolific calendar year for Portugal with 14 goals

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Cameroon 2021: Eagles wallop Lesotho’s Crocodiles 4-2 to stay top of group  

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Cameroon 2021: Eagles wallop Lesotho’s Crocodiles 4-2 to stay top of group   

Nigeria stayed solid at the top of their qualifying group for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations after a brace by Victor Osimhen and goals by Alex Iwobi and Samuel Chukwueze steered them to a 4-2 win over Lesotho in Maseru on Sunday.

 

As has happened in recent times with Nigerian teams, the Super Eagles (who also conceded a second minute goal to Benin in Uyo on Wednesday before rallying to win 2-1 on Day 1 of the qualifying series), fell behind after 11 minutes when Nkoto Masoabi rose highest between two defenders to nod powerfully beyond Daniel Akpeyi after the Crocodiles broke on a counter attack. This was only a minute after Osimhen had rattled goalkeeper Moerane Sekhoane with a stinging shot from outside the area.

 

In the 17th minute, William Ekong’s flying free kick from 24 yards was parried by Sekhoane, and nine minutes later, Alex Iwobi brought Nigeria level following hard work by Victor Osimhen. The former U17 World Cup winner saw his pull-out intercepted by a defender, chased the defender, retrieved the ball neatly and passed to Iwobi to drive into the net at the far post.

 

Five minutes later, Osimhen again rattled the Crocodiles’ goaltender, but in the 36th minute there was to be no stopping Nigeria as Samuel Chukwueze rose between two taller defenders to nod home a well-weighted pass from Osimhen for the Super Eagles’ second of the evening.

 

Livewire forward Osimhen still had time for two attempts before half time.

 

In the second half, Nigeria went all out and after Osimhen had clipped the crossbar and saw another shot parried to safety, the gangling forward slid full length to score Nigeria’s third from a cross by defender Ola Aina in the 74th minute.

Osimhen again worked hard to create a glorious chance for substitute Ahmed Musa in the 80th minute, but the captain inexplicably missed from inside the box.

Fittingly, the Lille of France forward would score a second, latching onto a brilliant pass by substitute Ramon Azeez to poke beyond Sekhoane in the 84th minute to virtually assure of the maximum points.

 

However, defender Chidozie Awaziem enabled a respectable scoreline for the home team when he diverted a pull-out into his own net with Akpeyi wrong-footed and with only two minutes left in regulation time.

With six points and six goals, the Super Eagles have started this race well and strong. Home matches against Lesotho and Sierra Leone will be completed by trips to Sierra Leone and Benin Republic in the final phase of the qualifying series next year.

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JUST IN: Eagles beat Lesotho 4-2

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JUST IN: Eagles beat Lesotho 4-2

Nigeria’s Super Eagles have kept a firm grip on the top of Group L of the Cameroon 2021 qualifying series when they beat Lesotho in their second group game on Sunday.

Details soon…

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Stephens eyes Olympics, return to form in 2020

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Stephens eyes Olympics, return to form in 2020

Sloane Stephens said she is ready to turn the page on a disappointing 2019 and shift her focus to climbing the world tennis rankings to qualify for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

The 26-year-old American, who won the U.S. Open in 2017 and reached world number three in 2018, struggled this year, failing to make the final at any tournament and falling to world number 25.

“I’m excited to start a new season because midway through 2019, I was ready for it to be over,” Stephens told Reuters in an interview after hosting a tennis clinic at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey, California.

“So I’m just looking forward to 2020 and I’m ready for a fresh start. I literally have nothing to lose, a lot in front of me and nowhere to go but up,” she said.

“For me it’s a good position to be in.”

High on her list of goals for 2020 is making her second consecutive appearance for Team USA at the Olympics, she said.

“I made one before, which was really cool, and I’d obviously love to make a second one and play for my country,” she said.

To do so, she will need to deal with a grueling WTA schedule, made even more difficult with the extra playing time and travel needed in an Olympic year.

“Managing the ups and downs throughout the year is a pretty big goal,” she said.

“It’s about staying healthy and happy, enjoying my tennis and not getting too burnt out at the beginning of the year knowing that it is a very long season,” she said.

Stephens said she has no lingering issues with the foot injury she suffered in 2017 that required surgery and sidelined her for 11 months.

Despite her on-court struggles, life off the court has been more upbeat with her engagement to U.S. men’s national soccer team and Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore, whom she began dating in 2016.

“I have a fresh mind and am feeling a lot better on and off the court,” she said.

“I think will allow me to have better results.”

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Euro 2020 roundup: Croatia survive Slovakia scare to join Germany in finals

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Euro 2020 roundup: Croatia survive Slovakia scare to join Germany in finals

Germany, Croatia and Austria all sealed their places in the Euro 2020 finals with wins on Saturday, while a draw in Northern Ireland also confirmed qualification for the Netherlands.

Croatia’s 3-1 win over Slovakia means they top Group E, but the 2018 World Cup finalists got a scare when Robert Bozenik put the visitors ahead after 32 minutes in Rijeka.

Two goals in four minutes from Nikola Vlasic and Bruno Petkovic settled the hosts’ nerves near the hour mark, before Ivan Perisic sealed victory with a spectacular finish, volleying into the top corner on the stretch with 15 minutes to play, reports The Guardian.

Things were more straightforward for Germany in Mönchengladbach, where the hosts beat Belarus 4-0. Matthias Ginter’s backheeled finish from Serge Gnabry’s cross gave Germany a half-time lead, and Leon Goretzka doubled their advantage shortly after the break, rifling a low shot home from a short corner.

Midfielder Toni Kroos then stole the show with two fine goals as Joachim Löw’s side sealed qualification from Group C.

The Real Madrid midfielder sidefooted home clinically from the edge of the area on 55 minutes, and added a second late on after twisting beyond two defenders. Manuel Neuer denied Belarus a consolation from the penalty spot, tipping Ihar Stasevich’s effort round the post.

Austria secured a top-two finish in Group G with a 2-1 win over North Macedonia in Vienna. Stefan Lainer was the star man for the hosts, the Gladbach right-back setting up David Alaba with a terrific through ball after seven minutes, then bundling home a second from a corner early in the second half. Despite Vlatko Stojanovski’s late consolation, Franco Foda’s side held on to ensure their place at the finals.

In Saturday’s other games, already-qualified Poland beat Israel 2-1 in Jerusalem.

Robert Lewandowski was on the substitutes’ bench for the first hour, with Grzegorz Krychowiak and Milan striker Krzysztof Piatek getting the goals in his absence.

Elsewhere in Group G, an own goal from Igors Tarasovs condemned Latvia to defeat in Slovenia – their ninth loss out of nine in this campaign.

Belgium emphatically secured top spot in Group I, beating second-placed Russia 4-1 in St Petersburg. Eden Hazard scored twice after his brother, Thorgan, had put Roberto Martínez’s side ahead. Romelu Lukaku added a fourth, lashing the ball home from the edge of the area, before Georgiy Dzhikija scored for the hosts.

The group whipping boys, San Marino, remain without a point after losing 3-1 at home to Kazakhstan – but they scored their first goal of the campaign through Filippo Berardi, whose cool finish on the break sparked scenes of joy in Serravalle.

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