Manchester United defender Eric Bailly is hopeful of making his comeback way ahead of schedule after undergoing successful knee surgery.
Bailly damaged ligaments in his right knee during United’s pre-season clash with Tottenham back in July and the 25-year-old has been forced to miss the start of the side’s Premier League campaign.
There were initial fears that Bailly would be out until the new year, but the former Villarreal star has made significant strides with his recovery.
According to ESPN FC, Bailly hopes to be back training again in two months and is targeting a return to first-team action in November.
Though Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof have nailed down the two centre-back spots in Bailly’s absence, the Ivorian’s return will be greatly welcomed by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
United’s physio room has been a busy place, with Luke Shaw (thigh), Anthony Martial (thigh), Aaron Wan-Bissaka (back), Paul Pogba (ankle/foot) and Diogo Dalot (hip) all suffering injuries in recent weeks. The Red Devils host Leicester City at Old Trafford this weekend before their Europa League campaign begins at home to Kazakhstan Premier League outfit Astana, reports metro.co.uk.
Jesse Lingard is expected to be available for United’s clash with Leicester despite pulling out England’s squad with an illness. “Frustrating that illness has meant I can’t be involved in these two games,” Lingard tweeted following England’s 4-0 win over Bulgaria.
“Great result yesterday and sure the lads will get the job done again on Tuesday!”
Rohr vs NFF: Much ado about nothing
It is obvious, even if they will not admit it, that the Nigeria Football Federation hierarchy and Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr are not on the best of terms. The two parties cannot seem to agree on anything these days: from salary payments to contract renewal and squads, the two parties have been knocking heads lately. The once chummy relationship between Rohr and NFF President Amaju Pinnick is apparently on the rocks and it looks inevitable that the two will soon ‘file for divorce’.
At first, the noise was about Rohr’s salaries. While the German insisted that he was owed several months in back wages, the NFF claimed they owed only one month. After some back and forth, the arrears were cleared and everything seemed to be back on track. But then came the issue of Rohr’s contract which expires in June next year. Normally this should not be a big deal: the contract is either renewed or not. However, speaking about it on television recently, Pinnick opened another can of worms.
The NFF boss announced new terms for a contract extension, with a key condition that the coach must focus more on the Nigeria Professional Football League and spend more time in Nigeria. Notably, this had not been an issue in Rohr’s first two years in charge and Pinnick had appeared to be satisfied with the coach’s work. “Rohr’s contract is due for renewal in June and we don’t have any issue with him right now,” Pinnick said in a Channels TV interview last week.
“(If we’re to offer a new contract) we’ll strengthen the clauses that domesticate Rohr himself in Nigeria and to our leagues. He needs to go round, watch some of the leagues.” Pinnick has played the perfect politician’s game right there, claiming there is no issue while clearly highlighting that it is no longer business as usual with Rohr.
The German, never one to back down from any battle even if it’s one which he cannot win, in typical fashion stood his ground when confronted with Pinnick’s quote on the eve of his team’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Benin Republic. Rohr denied knowledge of any contract talks as he spoke to the press in Uyo ahead of Wednesday’s fixture against the Squirrels. “No he (Amaju Pinnick) did not speak about it at all. But I know that he has sometimes a different opinion like me,” Rohr said.
“But that is football. I never accepted to make a choice coming from the officials. My choice is to take the best players. “Unfortunately, we could not take more players from the league because they did not play (the NPFL went on a long break). So it was difficult for them to be fit.
The CHAN team also did not qualify. This is also proof that perhaps they missed competition. “I am sure that they have good players here. One of them is Ifeanyi Anaemena from Enyimba who replaces (Bryan) Idowu who could not come. Instead of searching out a player from Europe we picked this young boy. “We try all the time to give the best.
I know that some people may not be happy about my choice but it is my choice and it is always honest.” The key bone of contention here appears to be the need to have more NPFL players in Rohr’s squad going forward, although there is probably a lot more to it than meets the eye. Squad selection should not be a problem since it is the coach’s prerogative. The buck stops at his desk and he gets to get the credit or blame depending on results.
If Rohr and his assistants have not seen players in the NPFL good enough to be in his plans for now, so be it. He is the head coach and he knows the quality of players he needs to get results. A lot has been said about including home-based players in the Super Eagles regularly, but the truth remains that senior national teams are meant for a country’s best players. It’s common knowledge that Nigeria’s best players are based in Europe, the Mecca of world football. Almost every single footballer on earth with ambition wants to take his career to the big leagues of Europe (the English Premier League, the Italian Serie A, the Spanish LaLiga, the German Bundesliga and the French Ligue 1), including players currently in the NPFL.
It is from these championships that Rohr regularly draws his squad from. Where is the problem? Of course if an exceptional talent emerges in the NPFL, Rohr should give him a shot but it remains the coach’s call. Personally, I do not believe Rohr has been a raging success with the Super Eagles.
I felt the team should have done better at both the World Cup in 2018 and AFCON this year, the two tournaments he has attended. But he has his good sides: he has brought a lot of young players through and his squads are not usually filled with players who got in through the back door.
His press conferences and interviews are usually open, engaging and enlightening too. For the sake of the national team and the whole of Nigerian football, the NFF and Rohr should sheathe their swords and work together in harmony.
Why I make late substitutions in games – Rohr
Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr has lifted the lid on why he makes late substitutions in games.
Most of the substitutions by the German tactician often take place towards the end of the match.
The Super Eagles boss, however, slated that his decision was to ensure he does not make mistakes and gives ample time for the players in the starting XI to make an impact.
“I always try to give the starting XI enough time to express themselves,” Rohr told the media.
“I also have to be very sure that the player I want to take off has done all he can during his time on the field of play.”
Nigeria will take on the Republic of Benin in their opening Group L Africa Cup of Nations qualifying game at Godswill Akpabio Stadium on Wednesday.
The three-time African champions will thereafter travel to Setsoto Stadium to slug it out with Lesotho in their second group match on Sunday.
AFCON 2021: Eagles pip gritty Squirels
…as Osimhen, Kalu shoot Nigeria to Group L lead
Super Eagles started their 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifying campaign on a winning note after they defeated the Squirrels of Benin republic at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium on Wednesday.
The victory moves the Super Eagles top of Group L after one round of fixtures, with Sierra Leone and Lesotho having played out a 1-1 draw in Freetown at the same time.
Striker Victor Osimhen scored a second half penalty to cancel out Stephane Sessegnon’s early goal and Samuel Kalu produced a sublime efforst later in the game to earn the Eagles the victory.
Gernot Rohr made four changes to the side that executed the last international game versus Brazil, with Daniel Akpeyi, Wilfred Ndidi, Ola Aina and Samuel Kalu afforded starting spots in Uyo.
Nigeria suffered a blow after just three minutes in when some sloppy defending allowed Sessegnon to slot past Akpeyi and put the visitors ahead.
Gernot Rohr’s troops were stunned following Benin’s goal, and they struggled to regain their composure in the aftermath of their West African neighbours going in front.
The Super Eagles only settled as half-time approached with Samuel Chukwueze hitting the frame of the goal in the 40th minute.
The three-time African champions weren’t to be denied, though, as Victor Osimhen dispatched a penalty on the stroke of the break after Ola Aina was fouled.
Rohr’s men started the second-half the brighter of the two sides without really making Fabien Farnolle work in the Benin goal.
The hosts completed the comeback just after the hour mark. Bordeaux wideman Kalu beat a couple of defenders and shot past Farnolle, who had no chance as the effort was cleanly struck and well-placed.
Eagles still lack cohesion – Sodje
Ex-international Sam Sodje has said the Super Eagles Manager Gernot Rohr still has a lot of work to do on his team following their performance in their 2-1 win over Benin Republic in a 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifying match on Wednesday.
The former West Brom of England defender told our correspondent after the game that the team struggled in all departments and lacked cohesion in the encounter.
He said although there were no minnows in African football anymore, the Eagles should have asserted their authority on their opponents with their performance.
“Of course the team needs to improve in so many areas; it is difficult to mention a particular department but they need to play more as a team. We saw that there were no enough communication and cohesion and they were generally scrappy but I am sure the coach has noticed some of the mistakes and will work on them going forward,” he said.
However, the former Reading star hailed the players’ mentality, praising them for coming from behind to record the victory.
“We didn’t start the game very well but credit must be given to the team for overcoming that setback to record victory. In football, result is what that is matter not the way you play and it is good that they were able to defeat Benin Republic today,’ he said.
Qualifying for OQT is not negotiable – Otis
As Nigerians eargerly anticipate the commencement of the FIBA Africa pre-Olympic qualifiers, head coach of senior women national team, Otis Hughley says the team is fully focused on the task ahead. After masterminding the team to the 2019 Afrobasket title which has seen the D’Tigress climb to the number one spot in Africa according to the latest FIBA ranking, Otis said qualification for the 2020 Olympics Qualifying Tournament (OQT) is not negotiable. Speaking from the team’s base in Maputo, Hughley confirmed that preparation is going on as planned with all invited players ready to give their best when they start their pre-qualifiers campaign.
“We are aware of the task ahead of us. The culture of basketball is fast growing in Nigeria and the people are expecting us to win everytime we file out. These expectations have continued to spur us to want to give our all and represent the country the best that we can.”
Speaking further, Hughley said, “We must continue to show the world that we deserved to be the best in Africa and also become one of the best in the world.” According to him, the team ranked 16th in the world can get better and climb higher while achieving greater things as a group.
GOtv Boxing Night Mini: Boxers talk tough
Boxers billed to fight at the maiden edition of GOtv Boxing Night Mini have been speaking of their preparations ahead of the event billed to hold on Saturday at the Rowe Park Sports Complex, Yaba, Lagos. Typically, the boxers’ comments have been marked by boasts about their abilities and how such would swing things in their way.
Some of the boxers scheduled to be in action are Rilwan “Real One” Oladosu, reigning West African Boxing Union (WABU) lightweight champion; Rilwan “Baby Face” Babatunde, West African Boxing Union (WABU) welterweight champion, Waheed “Showmax” Shogbamu, Ola Adebakin and Cynthia “Omo Bobby” Ogunsemilore.
Oladosu, who is billed to take on Adebakin in a national lightweight challenge, declared himself ready, willing and able to see off his opponent without fuss.
“ I am unstoppable. Tell Adebakin that he will see hell. I don’t even need to exert myself. I’m sufficiently prepared and he’d feel the full force of my preparation,” he said.
The lesser known Adebakin, however, responded that while he is an underdog, he will show Oladosu that underdogs can bite and dangerously, too. He bragged that he will inflict on the WABU champion his first defeat as a professional.
“Real One might be better known, but that will count for nothing when we step into the ring. He isn’t familiar with me, but did know him well, including his weaknesses. I’m ready to exploit this and put him where he belongs: on the canvas,” he bragged.
WABU welterweight champion, Rilwan “Baby Face” Babatunde, is also in war mood, issuing a strong warning to his opponent, Dennis “The Range” Mba. He said he has seen media reports quoting Mba as threatening him with defeat, something for which he would make him pay. “I’ve seen him boast in media reports, but he’ll be sorry at the end of the fight. He’d be treated like every other opponent who’s been foolish enough to face me,” he said.
Waheed “Showmax” Shogbamu and Semiu “Jagaban” Olopade have similarly swapped boasts, with the former vowing to leave his opponent in tears and blood.
Also, Ogunsemilore, who is billed to take on take on Omowunmi “Mummy’s Pet” Akinsanya in a national super featherweight challenge, said she expects to win the bout and improve her fight record.
“I am well prepared for this fight and I am primed to ensure Akinsanya continues to remain a “Mummy’s Pet” in the ring. I really need the win in order to show that my nascent boxing career is really progressing,” she said.
Also on the bout card is a national cruiserweight challenge between Kabiru “KB Godson” Towolawi and Tunji “Germani” Olajide.
Abuja J5 ITF tennis:Abua, Ibrahim secure slots in second round
Nigeria’s Canice Abua advanced to the second round of the NTF International Junior Championships Wednesday following a straight-sets victory over Ghanaian 6th seed, Desmond Ayaaba, in Abuja.
Abua, who surprisingly claimed the ITF Junior title last week is bidding for a back-to-back successes thus stretched his win streak to six matches at the Nigerian capital. Up next for the star prospect is Rubi Toba, who outclassed Bulus Bulus 6-2, 6-0 in an all Nigeria clash.
Elsewhere, 2nd seed, Assil Boussayri of Morocco, brushed Kumabo Kundams of India 6-1, 6-0 to set up a meeting with Nigeria’s Gabriel Friday. 5th seed, Joshua Aji, eased past Ghana’s Ivan Wularu 6-2, 6-2, while Wilson Igbinovia defeated Musa Sani 6-2, 6-3.
Also, homeboy Suleiman Ibrahim, a qualifier, was in superb form against Habila Haggai, of Morocco dropping just a game in a comprehensive 6-0, 6-1 victory to also advance to the second round, while Ojo Fredrick was rock-solid against Friday Ismaila, winning 6-4, 6-4.
India’s Siddharth Tirupati suffered his second straight first round defeat, as he was beaten 6-3, 7-5 by Nigerian qualifier, David Dawariye
In the girls field, 3rd seeded Ivorian, Blanche Minet began her campaign on a good note, as she defeated Nigeria’s Joy Samuel in straight sets 6-0, 7-5 So also was French teenager, Iantsatiana Ratovondrahona made light work of Naomi Samuel for the second consecutive week, winning 6-0, 6-2 to stretch her head-to-head superiority over the Nigerian to 2-0.
Ex-Eagles midfielder guilty of match-fixing in Sweden
Former Nigeria international Dickson Etuhu has been found guilty of attempted match-fixing by a Swedish appeals court. The Court of Appeal in Stockholm said in a release on Wednesday that it was clear that Etuhu and an unnamed former player tried to influence AIK keeper Kyriakos “Kenny” Stamatopoulos to fix a match in Sweden’s top division in 2017.
Etuhu, who played for several English clubs including Manchester City, Sunderland, Preston, Blackburn and Fulham, escaped a jail sentence but was instead fined and sentenced to serve probation, without further details being made public. The 37-year-old, who left AIK Solna in 2016, says he will be appealing against the ruling at the Supreme Court.
The court said that “the content of what the men submitted to the player (Stamatopoulos) was so clear that it should be considered a criminal offer of bribe.” Etuhu had intially been acquitted by a court last year but that was appealed by prosecutor Johan Lindmark, who told local Swedish newspaper Expressen that he was satisfied with Wednesday’s outcome. “It was with satisfaction that I received the verdict today,” Lindmark said.
Kwara teams 90% ready for Div 1 league
Coach Isiaka Atanda of Kwara state handball teams has rated his side readiness at 90 percent for the 2019 National Handball Division One League in Kaduna state.
The National Handball Division one is scheduled to hold from 13th to 22nd November, 2019.
Atanda told www.aclsports.com that he is working tirelessly to achieve the remaining 10 percent before the commencement of the division one.
He said, “We have got up to 90 percent readiness for the upcoming 2019 National Handball Division One League. We are working round the clock to ensure we achieve the remaining 10 percent in the coming weeks.
“We are confident of reaching the 100 percent mark before the commencement of the division one.
He hailed the state chairman, Emmanuel Olubiyo for his dedication to the team adding that his players are disciplined.
Atanda said, “I must tell you that the chairman, Emmanuel Olubiyo always comes to our rescue whenever there are tournaments anywhere in the country. We have been in camp for the over a week, powered by him. I am also happy with the level of discipline and dedication shown by the players and their promptness to respond to a new coaching pattern”.
He revealed that most of the players who played at the U18 and 21 national championships in Lagos will feature for the state at the division one.
He said, “The crops of players we are parading have been together for over 6 years. They started from the U-13 to U-15 then to the U-17. Most of the players you will be seeing in Kaduna played at the U-18 and 21 national championships in Lagos.”
Nadal saves match point to beat Medvedev
Rafael Nadal saved a match point to beat Russian Daniil Medvedev and boost his hopes of a first ATP Finals title.
Nadal, bidding to keep his world number one ranking, could have been eliminated on Wednesday with defeat but beat the fourth seed 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 7-6 (7-4).
The Spaniard trailed 5-1 in the third set and saved match point on his serve at 5-2 before a stunning comeback.
“This match is one of those that one [time] out of 1,000 you win,” Nadal said. “Honestly, I was super lucky.”
The 33-year-old’s hopes of progression to the semi-finals rest on his meeting with Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday.
Greek Tsitsipas plays Alexander Zverev, who beat Nadal in their opening round-robin match, later on Wednesday.
The last meeting between Nadal and 23-year-old Medvedev was September’s US Open final, which the Spaniard won in five sets, and this match was almost as thrilling.
Both players looked beaten at times, Medvedev when he was distracted while he was losing the second set and Nadal when a double-break down in the decider.
Errors from Nadal and a resurgence from Medvedev at the start of the third set had led to the Russian racing into a 4-0 lead.
He had two break points for 5-0, and the match point two games later, but 19-time Grand Slam champion Nadal showed all of his trademark fighting spirit, roared on by the crowd at London’s O2 Arena.
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