After his impressive midweek performance for the Super Eagles in the international friendly with Ukraine, Alex Iwobi turns his attention back to the English Premier League hoping to do same for Everton this afternoon against Bournemouth, writes TUNDE SULAIMAN
Fresh from missing a weekend of domestic football in order to accommodate national team football in the shape of Euro 2020 qualifiers, the attention switches back to the Premier League this Sunday with Match Day Five action continuing.
Although the “big boys” in the shape of Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, all saw action yesterday, there is still a feast of football to saviour this afternoon from the teams desperate to make a statement.
Eddie Howe’s AFC Bournemouth kick off the schedule with a tricky home tie against inform Everton at 2pm, while Arsenal has a trip to Vicarage Road to play Watford, who became the first team to do away with their manager, when they announced the departure of Javi Gracia during the international break.
In his place returned 54-year-old Quique Sánchez Flores for his second stint in charge of The Hornets.
However, Howe will be hoping that the international break would have been enough time to pick up his players after their chastising trip to the King Power Stadium on Match Day Four where the Cherries were completely outplayed by the Foxes.
Although the 3-1 score line hints that perhaps they did try, in truth the result totally masks the lacklustre performance of the visiting side that scored from their only shot on target.
Jamie Vardy scored twice and made the other as an impressive Leicester showed the Cherries no mercy.
In fact the 2016 surprise champions could have had more but Harvey Barnes and Soyuncu both curled efforts narrowly wide from promising positions.
Howe will have to decide if he will be sticking with Aaron Ramsdale between the sticks or opting for 39-year-old former Polish international, Artur Boruc.
The 21-year-old goalkeeper, who was making just his fourth top-flight appearance having spent last season on-loan at League One AFC Wimbledon, was also given an equally uncomfortable afternoon at King Power Stadium and looked extremely shaky when presented with the ball at his feet.
On one occasion, Ramsdale thought he had more time as Vardy darted into the box and stuck out a foot to a short pass, which fortunately rolled straight back into the hands of the keeper.
Vardy stung Ramsdale’s hands with a thumping drive from the edge of the area and it was his industry, not giving up on a loose ball, which allowed for the second, rolling the ball across the six-yard area for Tielemans to tuck home.
However, besides the shaky performance of the England U21 goaltender, most of the Cherries players in front of him also failed to show up on Match Day Four and Howe must not allow that happen again this afternoon if he is to stop the slide down the table.
Currently 15th, Bournemouth has only managed one win out of the four so far played and face a side full of confidence after their 3-2 victory over Wolves.
Bournemouth finished 14th in the league last season, losing half of their 38 games, and this looks like being another inconsistent season for them.
Eddie Howe’s side were barely given a sniff by the hosts, former Coventry striker Wilson evading the offside trap to score just three minutes after Vardy’s opener, but they were unable to build on it.
On-loan midfielder Harry Wilson, who has made a positive start in a red-and-black shirt, failed to engineer any opportunities before being brought off on 64 minutes, while Joshua King was also quiet.
Summer signing Philip Billing and Jefferson Lerma put themselves about in the middle of the park, but Bournemouth lack a creative spark.
Speaking after the game, Howe was man enough to admit his side had been outplayed.
“There were bits in the first half we were pleased with. The goals killed us – from the first to the third. We’ve gifted them goals. It gave us a mountain to climb,” he said.
He knows he cannot afford another display like that especially in front of home fans, but he equally knows that sixth-placed Everton will not be easy push overs.
Everton manager Marco Silva would have been delighted with this side’s last league outing in which they got the better of a very impressive Wolves side, 3-2 in an entertaining game at Goodison Park.
Wolves, which had been the scourge of the “big teams in their promotion year last season, just could not handle the Toffees’ Brazilian international, Richarlison who scored a brace.
Richarlison’s performance prompted his manager to by every effusive in his praise of his once most expensive signing calling him “the spirit inside our dressing room” after the match.
“Richarlison is the type of player that needs good performances and if possible to win more confidence in the way he likes to play,” Silva said.
“Last season, he did all the pre-season for us. This season, he did Copa America and after was on holiday and started the first game against Crystal Palace with 13 days working with us.
“He scored two really important goals for us. He will keep improving, for sure.
“We are talking about a fantastic football player and a fantastic boy. He is the spirit inside our dressing room.”
Unfortunately Howe cannot only formulate a game plane to checkmate the Brazilian, because Silva also has other players at his disposal that can hurt him and one of them is Nigerian international Alex Iwobi.
In a late surprise transfer move, the 23-year-old Super Eagles star decided to end his 15-year sojourn with Arsenal to head to Merseyside in a £34 million five-year deal, ostensibly because he wanted more first team playing time.
And since his arrival, Iwobi, who has scored six times in 36 appearances for Nigeria, has proved that he did not make a mistake in becoming a virtual regular starter for Silva.
And he has repaid the Portuguese’s faith in him by scoring two vital goals in his two starts –the first was a crucial one in the League Cup to break the stubborn resistance of League One Lincoln City in a 4-2 win, while he was on hand to convert Gylfi Sigurdsson’s pin-point cross to restore the Toffees’ lead before 12 minutes had passed in the clash with Wolves.
Incidentally, Everton went into the Wolves game having only scored one goal in their previous three Premier League matches.
But with Iwobi and Moise Kean making their first league starts, the Toffees looked transformed in the attacking third.
The summer signings added extra verve to Everton’s attack and allowed more space and time for Richarlison and Sigurdsson to work their magic.
Behind them, Fabian Delph provided some muscle and awareness to keep the Wolves midfield in check.
Kean made a telling contribution in the build-up to Everton’s first goal, his hustling causing confusion in the home defence and allowing Richarlison to pounce for his first goal in the fifth minute.
Left out of Italy’s Euro 2020 squad that beat Finland last Sunday, Kean has a lot to prove that he is the man that can properly lead the line for the Toffees and should thus be all fired up, especially after featuring for the Azzurri’s U21s.
This may be bad news for Howe in his quest to stop the slide with a master tactical game plan to cage the Toffees, who with Iwobi in fine form will love nothing more than to pick all three points of the Cherries at Dean Court.
Some 24 kilometres northwest of central London, Unai Emery faces a much different problem then Howe, the Arsenal manager is going up against a side that is expected to receive a massive lift with the return of their popular manager, Quique Sanchez Flores.
It was during the first tenure of the former Spanish international, who was a member of the Italia’90 World Cup squad, that the Hornets enjoyed some of their best success in the top flight.
When he was first appointed on June 5, 2015 Flores to be the head coach of the newly promoted Premier League side in December, the team won three and lost only one of their league matches, earning him the Premier League Manager of the Month accolade; his forward Odion Ighalo earned the equivalent award for his five-goal haul that month.
However, despite going on to lead the team to a comfortable mid-table position and the semi-finals of the FA Cup, it was announced on May 13, 2016 that Flores would be leaving at the end of the season.
Thus fans will be hoping that the former right-back will be able to get his side purring once again and they would love nothing better than to see the Hornets lift the scalp of the Gunners today.
But in spite of the expected lift by the home side, Emery can still bask in the knowledge that historically Vicarage Road is a good hunting ground for the Gunners.
In 30 previous meetings between the two, Arsenal has won 17 of them. In fact the last time the Hornets triumphed over the London outfit was during the 2017 campaign when they did the double over their more illustrious visitors – winning 2-1 in both the home and away fixtures. Incidentally, Watford captain, Troy Deeney played a big part scoring in both legs.
However, since the last triumph on October 14, 2017, the Gunners have subsequently won three straight league meetings putting six goals past the Hornets without conceding any.
But if there is one stat that Flores can look at with some form of solace it is the fact that for some funny reason Arsenal has not been good travellers. In fact had their road form been as good as their form at the Emirates, the Gunners would have been playing in the more prestigious Champions League rather than the Europa League.
Last season Arsenal lost eight times away from The Emirates and included some surprise defeats at West Ham, Wolves and Everton amongst others.
So far this season, the only away loss as been at Anfield a 3-1 reversal, which Emery knows that had his players taken their chances the result, might have ended differently.
Today the Spaniard is likely to go for a win at Vicarage Road in order to keep in touch with the early pacesetters, Liverpool and Manchester City.
On his part, ever the pragmatist, Flores will most likely set his team up to hit on the counter, which should give both sets of fans a lot to either enjoy or gnash their teeth.
Match Day 5 games conclude tomorrow night with newly promoted Aston Villa, currently in 18th place, hosting seventh placed West Ham.
Ministry to fish out talents from NYSC camps – Dare
inister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, has disclosed that his ministry be using open trials at National Youth Service Corps orientation camps to discover new athletes that can compete in continental and global sports events.
Dare made the disclosure while fielding questions from newsmen after his visit to the NYSC Orientation Camp in Keffi, Nasarawa State for the ongoing Batch C – Stream One orientation.
Dare said:“This is a newly designed open trials for our youth corps members. We are working out the final details, which is why I brought Mary Onyali, we believe that perhaps, some of the sportsmen and women who are in camp today were too busy trying to read to pass their courses, and get a degree.
“Most of them now are in camp and are a bit more relaxed, we can give them an opportunity to exhibit the talents they have and even if this camp only produces a single talent, we would have succeeded in trying to groom new talents for this country.
“So, it’s going to happen as open trials at all the camps across the country and once we have the talents, we bring them together for another trial, and from there, we can send them to the federations who would develop them and present them to the ministry for championships and competitions.”
On the incentives for the athletes who will be discovered at the open trials, he said, “you know that we have the adoption campaign which is going to be launched very soon.
It is a national adoption campaign for sports facilities but also, we have the ‘Adopt an Athlete’ campaign. Once we find a few of our talented athletes in this camp and other camps across the country, we will plug them into our Adopt an Athlete campaign and once you are adopted as an athlete, you will be supported for training, kitting and a few others things you need.
It is a program that we think will excite so many budding talents that are here and I hope the youth corps members will take advantage of that, then we can grow a new tribe of sportsmen and women for the country,” Dare said.
Zenith Bank/Delta Principals’ Cup: Finalists emerge today from two centres
- Sponsors hail last four teams
he two finalists for the 2019 edition of the Delta State Principals’ Cup football competition sponsored by Zenith Bank Plc will emerge today.
The tournament which started on September 30 is a developmental Secondary Schools competition revived only three years ago courtesy of a partnership arrangement involving the Ifeanyi Okowa-led administration and the Zenith Bank. The tournament was in limbo for close to three years.
Over 850 teams started the competition which produced one winner in each of the 25 Local Governments in the state before the Zonal stage where eight quarterfinalists emerged.
Today at the Kwale Township Stadium, Zappa Secondary School, Asaba from Oshimili South LG will clash with Destiny Secondary School from Ughelli North LG in one of the semifinal ties.
In the second semis slated for the Ughelli Township Stadium, College of Commerce from Warri South LG will clash with Okotie-Eboh Government School from the Sapele LG in an encounter that promises to be explosive due to the previous run of both sides in the competition.
According to the Head of Technical Committee of the competition, Lucky Sunday, the two matches will start at 2pm in Kwale and Ughelli respectively.
Meanwhile, Sponsors of the tournament, Zenith Bank, has congratulated the last four teams of the 2019 edition of the competition.
Group Managing Director of the bank, Ebenezer Onyeagwu, hailed the feat achieved by the four teams remaining in the competition.
“Over 850 schools started the preliminaries and so the last four teams standing have done well. They are all winners and deserve to be commended. We are happy to be helping in the development on these young kids who are the future stars tomorrow,” Onyeagwu said.
Earlier this week, sponsors of the competition, Zenith Bank, boosted the morale of the semifinalists by providing them with new kits.
Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba is the venue of the final match scheduled to take place on November 21.
AFCON 2021: Nigeria vs Benin …‘Eagles must replicate club form’
uper Eagles players have been enjoined to replicate their clubs’ form in their African Cup of Nations qualifying match against Benin Republic today.
The Nigerian side will today face the Squirrels of Benin in the opening game of the AFCON qualifying series at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo Akwa Ibom State.
Former Eaglets John Obuh said the Eagles are expected to defeat their west African neighbours because of the quality in the team, saying most of the players have been doing well at their various clubs and that should reflect in the way they play today. “I know quite well that they will do well because of the way they perform in their various clubs. We have to believe in the Eagles; you can see that they have also been playing well in their continental engagements.
“They have good players abroad playing very well, so, we just have to make sure we give them the support for them to progress,” he said.
Nigeria’s former midfielder, Mutiu Adepoju, has also charged the team to go all out for a win today.
“Well, this is a qualifying match not a friendly game and Nigerians should expect victory from the Eagles against Benin Republic. It is also important to win their first game in the qualifiers, so, I expect victory,” he said.
“The coaches are there to give the players the practices and training they need to put their best in the game and for them not to underrate their opponents”.
Sterling dropped after Gomez bust-up
aheem Sterling admitted “emotions got the better of me” after being dropped for England’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Montenegro following a clash with team-mate Joe Gomez.
The Football Association said Sterling had been dropped “as a result of a disturbance in a private team area”.
The Manchester City forward, 24, then took to social media to confirm “a five to 10 second thing” with Liverpool’s Joe Gomez, 22, in the England camp.
But he added the pair were now “good”.
Sterling and Gomez had an on-field argument during the Reds’ 3-1 Premier League victory at Anfield on Sunday.
“Both Joe and I have had words and figured things out and moved on,” Sterling said via his Instagram account on Tuesday.
“We are in a sport where emotions run high and I am man enough to admit when emotions got the better of me.
“This is why we play this sport because of our love for it – me and Joe Gomez are good, we both understand it was a five to 10 second thing… it’s done, we move forward and not make this bigger than it is.”
“Let’s get focus on our game on Thursday,” Sterling added.
Eagles ready for Benin, Lesotho –Osimhen
uper Eagles Striker, Victor Oshimen, has declared that he and his colleagues are prepared to wreak havoc on their opponents Benin Republic in 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers taking place today at the Godwill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo and in Maseru in few days to come.
Oshimen told journalists that he was hundred percent ready for the tie against the Benin Republic on Wednesday along with Samuel Chukwueze, Samuel Kalu and others in camp.
”Well, I’m ready and hundred percent ready and I’m not the only player that can score in the team, we have Chukwueze, Kalu and of course our captain Ahmed Musa right here now with us.
“The confidence in camp is really high; we are looking forward to the game,” he said.
The Lille forward also stated that ”coming back to Uyo feels good and it’s like a home for them and they are ready to give their best to make the fans happy” he concluded.
Meanwhile Oshimen has also hinted that he would love to play in the Spanish La Liga.
The striker has been an instant hit at Ligue 1 club Lille with nine goals and two assists in all competitions since his transfer from Belgian club Sporting Charleroi.
“I am a big fan of La Liga,” the Super Eagles striker told L’Equipe.
“It’s my dream to play there.”
Only recently Spanish media linked him with a big-money move to Barcelona.
However, Osimhen has a contract with Lille till 2024 and he will respect it despite the speculations about his future.
“I’ve always been willing to take the next step, but I’m in Lille,” he maintained.
“I love the people. If big clubs keep an eye on me, it’s great for me, but it’s up to the club to decide if I stay or leave. I will not object.”
U-23 Eagles secure lifeline after Zambia win
The U-23 Eagles on Tuesday secured a heart-warming 3-1 victory against Zambia at the ongoing U-23 Africa Cup of Nations to put their quest for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games ticket back on track.
The coach Imama Amakapado-led team came from behind to secure the win that put them second on the group B table behind South Africa who defeated Cote d’Ivoire 1-0 earlier in the day.
Patson Daka gave Zambia the lead as early as the 12th minutes with Orji Okwonkwo restoring parity four minutes later.
Kelechi Nwakali put Nigeria ahead in the 65th minute from a freekick that beat all the defence line before Taiwo Awoniyi, who joined the team after the opening day loss to Cote d’Ivoire, secured the comprehensive win.
A win against South Africa in the final game will secure qualification for the semifinal and a step closer to one of the three tickets earmarked for Africa.
AFCON 2021 qualifiers: Aribo, Simon out of Benin clash
My contract not a problem for now, says Rohr
wo Super Eagles forwards, Joe Aribo and Moses Simon, might likely be out of the team’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Benin Republic scheduled for Wednesday, November 13, at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo.
Speaking with the media on Tuesday, the coach of the team, Gernot Rohr, said the the new Super Eagles sensation, Aribo, arrived late on Monday and might not be ready for the game while Simon has been busy with his club, Nantes of France.
“Aribo arrived Abuja last night (Monday) and this morning in Uyo (Tuesday) so he is likely to be rested for this game,” Rohr said.
“This is a game I must not gamble with, I have to be careful with everything to make sure we get everything right against Benin.
“Apart from Aribo also Simon will not be dressing against Benin because of his full engagement with his club.
“You will bear with me that he needs rest because I think he has been busy playing week in and out for his club. He has to rest and get fit for the next game.
“All the players are important and I hope to give each of them their rightful respect.”
Aribo has been a sensation since making his debut; he scored against Ukraine and Brazil in recent friendly games.
Meanwhile, Rohr has made it clear that he is not thinking about the renewal of his contract with the Nigeria Football Federation.
Rohr added: “I have to work; the contract is not a problem. I think by the end of the year, I will discuss with the FA. No distraction for me, but it’s time to have a new project to win the next AFCON, we need to be at the next World Cup as well.”
Also speaking at the press briefing, Nigeria Professional Football League champions, Enyimba’s defender, Ifeanyi Anaemena, has called for more call up for players in the domestic league to the national team.
While appreciating the coach for extending an invitation to him after Bryan Idowu pulled out of the game against Benin and Lesotho, he said calling more of the home-based players into the Super Eagles will help develop the league.
“I must say a big thank you to coach Rohr for giving me the opportunity to be in the team against Benin game. Seen how things are been going in the NPFL it has been a great privilege for us the players to play for the national team.
“It will also be a big improvement if NPFL players are given more opportunity to be part of the national team which I believe will go a long way for us,” he said.
Channels Track and Field Classics begins today
oung athletes from over 50 secondary schools in Lagos State would converge at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos for the second edition of the Channels Track and Field Classics which begins today.
Already, more schools are going to be part of this year’s event according to the technical director of the tournament aimed at discovering more talented athletes that will represent Nigeria at future international championships.
“We want to use this classics to restore our lost glory in athletics. It usually takes about five years to train athletes to stardom. We are projecting that athletes discovered from this classics will represent Nigeria at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France” Amike said
This year’s competition is expected to be an improvement on that of last year where key talents like Fatola Adedoyin and Alimat Alowonle who went on to represent Nigeria at the Africa Youth Games were discovered.
Invited secondary school students from both the private and public sectors across the six (6) educational districts of Lagos State are expected to attend the two-day meet meant for athletes who are below 17 years.
Events to feature in the competition includes 100, 200,400 and 800 metres races. And also the 4X100 and 4X400 relay races. Alonside long jump, high jump and short put.
The overall aim of the competition is to scout, discover and develop talents that abound in the secondary school system.
About 49 secondary schools took part in last year’ inaugural championship which recorded some outstanding results.
Philips whips Gaddafi, Ekpeyong crashes
Abayomi Philips began his second leg campaign at the NTF International Junior Championships in Abuja on a brilliant note, as he thrashed Gaddafi Yakubu 6-0, 6-1 to move into the second round.
Philips, who claimed his sole ITF Junior title of the season yet in Accra, Ghana, in August, will continue his push for a second title, when he takes on David John, who produced a fine performance to beat Britain’s Abdulraheem Isa 6-2, 6-4 on Court 4 of the National Tennis Centre.
Elsewhere, last week’s boys singles runner-up, Musa Mohammed, claimed a comfortable 6-3, 6-2 victory over Joseph Peter to set up a meeting with Elisha Olowogbile, a 3-6, 6-4, 2-0 (rtd) winner over Michael Emmanuel.
Michael Osewa prevailed 6-2, 3-0 (rtd) over Mustapha Kabir, who retired due to injury midway through the second set, while Gabriel Friday secured a tight 7-6(4), 7-5 victory over David Ekpenyong.
In the girls field, Rebecca Ekpenyong, who reached the semifinals in the first leg last week, suffered a shock first round exit today, as she was beaten 6-3, 6-3 by Omolayo Bamidele.
Confed Cup: Enyimba, Rangers get tough draws
nyimba’s bid to reclaim glory in Africa will face a stern challenge from Algeria’s Paradou AC and Moroccan side Hassania US Agadir after they were drawn in Group D of the Caf Confederation Cup on Tuesday.
The Peoples’ Elephant will also face San Pedro of the Ivory Coast in their group.
Having last tasted continental glory in 2004 when they bagged the Caf Champions League, Enyimba have struggled to replicate that feat in Africa.
They now have to navigate past fellow West Africans San Pedro and also deal with the North African duo of Paradou and Hassania Agadir for a continental title.
Also seized with North African opponents are Enugu Rangers who were drawn in Group A where they will travel to Egypt twice to face Pyramids and El Masry.
They also face Nouadhibou of Mauritania who are making their debut in the Caf Confederation Cup group stages.
Rangers might fancy their chances of topping this group against their opponents who have all not won continental silverware.
The Caf Confederation Cup draw also saw South African side Bidvest Witsbeing pooled in Group B where they will come up against Djoliba of Mali, Guinean heavyweights Horoya and El Nasr of Libya.
It is the first time for Wits to participate in the Caf Confederation Cup group phase and the South Africans might want to make a statement given their superior financial standing against their opponents.
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