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Euro 2020: Kane nets hat-trick as England romp past Bulgaria

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Euro 2020: Kane nets hat-trick as England romp past Bulgaria

England’s serene progress towards Euro 2020 continued as skipper Harry Kane grabbed a hat-trick in a 4-0 demolition of Bulgaria in Group A at Wembley on Saturday.

Kane opened the scoring after 24 minutes and struck home two penalties after the break as well as providing the assist for Raheem Sterling to get on the scoresheet.

Gareth Southgate’s side have now scored 14 goals in their opening three Group A games and lead the table with nine points while Kosovo who earlier beat the Czech Republic 2-1, have eight points.

England host Kosovo for the first time on Tuesday when another victory will leave them looking virtually assured of reaching next year’s tournament that culminates on home soil.

It was not a perfect display by England with Bulgaria having three good chances, one when the score was 0-0.

However, England proved far too strong as they left the visitors languishing at the bottom of the group with two points from five games.

Kane’s second hat-trick for England, following the one he scored against Panama at last year’s World Cup finals, took his tally to 25 goals in 40 appearances, reports Reuters.

Eight of the goals were from the penalty spot.

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African champions, Algeria, begin title defence with rout of Zambia

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African champions, Algeria, begin title defence with rout of Zambia

Algeria thrashed Zambia 5-0 on Thursday in a successful start to the defence of their continental crown, winning their opening qualifier for the 2021 African Cup of Nations 117 days after lifting the trophy.

Baghdad Bounedjah scored twice, one from the penalty spot, with Ramy Bensebaini, Youssef Belaili and substitute El Arabi Hilal Soudani completing a pleasing performance for the home fans in Blida.

Thomas Partey’s long-range shot gave Ghana the lead and 19-year-old debutant Mohammed Kudus added the second in a 2-0 home win over South Africa in Cape Coast, but Egypt, who hosted the finals this year, were held 1-1 at home by Kenya, reports Reuters.

Mohamed Salah’s absence due to an ankle injury left Egypt looking ineffective in attack although they did take the lead when Mahmoud Kahraba picked up on a weak back pass.

Michael Olunga stunned the home crowd in Alexandria with a 67th-minute equaliser for Kenya.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang captained Gabon as they forced a goalless draw away to Democratic Republic of Congo in Kinshasa while Mali twice surrendered the lead as they were held 2-2 by Guinea, for who Naby Keita scored their first goal.

The Comoros Islands, who only became FIFA members in 2005, notched their first away win in a competitive international as Faiz Selemani scored early in the second half to beat Togo 1-0 in Lome.

The small Indian Ocean island nation host Egypt on Monday, looking to keep up their giant-killing start in Group G.

Mozambique beat Rwanda 2-0 at home in Thursday’s other qualifier.

Qualifiers continue through to Tuesday, by which time each of the 48 participating countries will have played two matches each.

The top two in each of the 12 groups advance to the finals, to be hosted in Cameroon in mid-2021.

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Musa raises the alarm over synthetic pitch in Lesotho

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Musa raises the alarm over synthetic pitch in Lesotho

…insists Eagles’ll take maximum points

 

Super Eagles skipper Ahmed Musa has voiced out the concerns of his teammates who will play on the synthetic pitch when they face Lesotho in Maseru in their second 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifying match on Sunday.

Eagles will be looking to consolidate on their 2-1 win over Benin Republic in their campaign opener in Uyo when they face Lesotho on Sunday but the Al Nasr of Saudi forward said it was going to be a difficult game for his side because they will play on a surface that they are quite unfamiliar with.

”We are going to play on an artificial pitch; it is not that easy because some of the players are not used to playing on synthetic pitch.

”But we know what everybody expects from us so we are going there to do our best to win,” he said.

Ranked 138th in the latest FIFA ranking, Lesotho registered an impressive 1-1 draw against hosts Sierra Leone (117th) in their Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers Group L opener in Freetown and Musa insisted his side could pick all points in Maseru.

”As you can see, it was a tough game for the team today but at the end of 90 minutes, we have three points so we are going over there to have another win because we know that the game is going to be very tough.”

Musa played a bit part role in the victory over Benin Republic after he came on late in the game and the skipper said he had no problem with playing from the bench if that would help the team.

“For me, I don’t have to play. If the coach wants me to play I will play but if he does not, I won’t. For me, I advised we can start the team that played against Brazil because they played very good.

“As you can see, the young players are coming up and we have to give them a lot of chance. Maybe Musa is not going to be here for a long time so we have to start grooming lots of them.

“Captaincy changes nothing for me,” he said.

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ANOCA secretariat inaugurated as minister breaks 10-year-old jinx

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ANOCA secretariat inaugurated as minister breaks 10-year-old jinx

The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr. Sunday Dare, broke a 10-year-old  jinx as he led an international delegation with the President of the International Olympics Committee (IOC), Dr. Thomas Bach to commission the  Secretariat of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa ( ANOCA).

The Minister said: “This is a landmark in the development of sports on the continent of Africa. It is a day that the entire black race should be proud of. And as Nigerians, we are proud to be a major contributor to the actualization of this day.

“Aside the obvious fact of the Commissioning of the Building that would from today be the administrative and technical hub of sports administration on the continent, we also have in our midst, the leaders of the world governing body for sports, ably led by the President of the International Olympic Committee, Dr. Thomas Bach.

“The journey to this day started some 13 years ago when Nigeria alongside 6 other African countries bided to host the Headquarters of ANOCA and become the Olympic capital of Africa. After a rigorous selection process, Nigeria was eventually selected as the Host Country for the umbrella body of the Olympic movement in Africa at the General Assembly, which took place in Kenya in June, 2006.

“With the selection and signing of the Headquarters Cooperation Agreement on February 21, 2007, the ANOCA Secretariat, hitherto in Yaoundé, Cameroon was moved to Abuja, Nigeria.”

“While biding as a Host Country, the Federal Republic Nigeria had promised to build a benefiting Headquarters for the continental body. On the road to fulfilling that promise, the foundation laying ceremony for the building was performed on July 6, 2009, by Dr. Jacques Rogge, the immediate past President of the International Olympic Committee.

“I must say we are indeed lucky to also have present here today to commission the building, the current President of the IOC, Dr. Thomas Bach.

“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the commitment of Nigeria to the completion of this edifice has been unwavering. It is for this reason that the Federal Government ensured the continued funding of the project from inception to completion.

“It is my sincere hope that the vision for which the project was executed would be achieved for the benefit of all Stakeholders,” he said.

The Minister, who earlier conducted the IOC delegation around the MKO Abiola Stadium, revealed that “After 10 years of trying to get approval for the domestication of the anti-doping bill,  yesterday the Federal Executive Council approved the domestication of that convention, that is historic.”

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D’Tigress starts FIBA Africa Pre-Olympics qualifiers on winning note

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D’Tigress starts FIBA Africa Pre-Olympics qualifiers on winning note

D

‘Tigress started their FIBA Africa Pre-Olympics Qualifiers started on a winning note after strolling over DR Congo, 20-0 points.

The Coach Otis Hughley side  performed a walk over ceremony over DR Congo who failed to show up for the competition holding in Maputo,  Mozambique.

Currently ranked first in Africa and 16th in the world,  the team shot to the top of group A with one match to go.

The reigning African Champions will now shift their attention to their last group game against Mozambique on Saturday after booking an automatic semi final ticket.

Winners of the semi final encounters will qualify for the Olympics Qualifying Tournament to be held next year.

It would be recalled that Hughley settled for Ezinne Kalu, Promise Amukamara, Elo Edema, Atonye Nyingifa, Sarah Imovbioh and Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpannah.

Others include Upe Atosu, Aisha Balarabe, Evelyn Akhator, Ifunnanya Ibekwe, Adaora Elonu and Victoria Macaulay.

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Massive team spirit earned us victory – Abdullahi

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Massive team spirit earned  us victory – Abdullahi

Super Eagles defender and Bursaspor SK player, Shehu Abdullahi, has shown gratitude to fans and teammates saying the team’s mentality helped Eagles to  defeating the Squirrels of Benin Republic in an African Cup of Nations qualifier on Wednesday.

The team was extremely cheered by fans despite their inability to net a goal very early, which turned out for good.

The 2016 Olympic Games bronze medalist, took to his Twitter handle and he tweeted thus: “Great win yesterday, massive team Spirit. Big thanks to Uyo fans, even when we were down, they kept supporting the team. Unto the next game against Lesotho”

Meanwhile, Abdullahi has been able to score a goal for his Turkish side; Bursaspor SK despite being a defender out of 11 games played for the 2019/2020 season.

The team are set to face Lesotho later and have high hopes to qualify for the 2021 AFCON.

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Uyo return delights Troost-Ekong

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Uyo return delights Troost-Ekong

William Troost-Ekong has taken to social media to express his joy over the return of Super Eagles back to Godswill Akpabio Stadium.

Since November 2018, the national team has played at Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, but it has never been the best playing experience.

On their return, Nigeria came out 2-1 victors over Benin Republic in their first match of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

“Good to start our Afcon 2021 campaign with a win. Always special to play on home soil in Uyo!,” Troost-Ekong tweeted.

The 26-year old was born to a Nigerian father who hails from Akwa Ibom State and a Dutch mother.

The Super Eagles lead Group L and travel down south on Sunday to face Lesotho – who drew 1-1 at Sierra Leone in Wednesday’s other fixture.

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GOtv Boxing Night Mini takes centre stage

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GOtv Boxing Night Mini takes centre stage

Awave of excitement is washing over boxing fans, as the first edition of GOtv Boxing Night Mini nears. The show, which holds on Saturday at the Rowe Park Sports Complex, Yaba, Lagos, is heavily anticipated by fans, who have adopted many of the boxers scheduled to be in action.

Fans interviewed at Yaba, Ojuelegba and Surulere areas of Lagos during the week expressed delight that the boxing show is close and will afford them the opportunity of watching some of the country’s top boxers in action.

Rafiu Dehinde, a fan who idolizes Rilwan “Real One” Oladosu, reigning West African Boxing Union (WABU) lightweight champion, said he is delighted with the opportunity to see the boxer in action again.

“I had hoped to see him fight Oto “Joe Boy” Joseph for the African Boxing Union (ABU) title, but Joe Boy got injured and the fight has been postponed. But I’m happy that he is on the bill because he’s such a good and stylish boxer,” said Dehinde.

Chiedu Abaeneme, a fan of Kabiru “KB Godson” Towolawi, is equally thrilled, saying the boxer is famous around Bariga where residents are ready to troop to the show venue to cheer him to victory.

“KB is well known in Bariga because he’s a good boxer and a nice man. Many people from Bariga will be there to cheer him to victory and watch other boxers,” he said.

Folashade Ogundipe, a female amateur boxer, said she’s happy that the show will feature female boxers.

She said: “I’m happy that female boxers will participate. Female boxers have had few opportunities at the professional level. GOtv Boxing Night Mini has given us hope that we are not being ignored.”

GOtv Boxing Night Mini will feature five explosive bouts. Oladosu will take on Ola Adebakin in a national lightweight challenge, while Rilwan “Baby Face” Babatunde, West African Boxing Union (WABU) welterweight champion, will take on Dennis “The Range” Mba in a challenge duel.

Other bouts are the national cruiserweight challenge between Kabiru “KB Godson” Towolawi and Tunji “Germani” Olajide; national light welterweight challenge between Waheed “Showmax” Shogbamu and Semiu “Jagaban” Olopade as well as the all-female super featherweight challenge clash between Cynthia “Omo Bobby” Ogunsemilore and Omowunmi “Mummy’s Pet” Akinsanya.

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We respect all opponents in Egypt – Imama

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We respect all opponents in Egypt – Imama

Nigeria need to defeat South Africa in their final Group B fixture at the Africa U-23 Cup of Nations, coach Imama Amapakabo has disclosed.

A win over the group leaders will seal the West Africans’ progress into the semi-finals and also boost their chances of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

South Africa are yet to taste defeat in the competition having settled for a goalless draw against Zambia in their opening fixture, before beating Ivory Coast 1-0 on Tuesday.

Nigeria, on their part, have overcome their poor start with a 3-1 win over Zambia and the former Enugu Rangers coach is looking forward to a big match at Al Salam Stadium as his team chases maximum points on Friday.

“Every game is a big game, we needed to win our opening game but unfortunately, we did not win,” Amapakabo said in the press conference in Egypt.

“We needed to win our second game, fortunately for us, we did win and we also need to win tomorrow.

“We pay utmost respect and attention to every team as I said from the onset, eight teams are here and every team deserves their place at the Olympics so we’ll respect every team, we hope to give it our best shot in tomorrow’s game.”

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AFCON U-23: Olympics Eagles eye semis ticket

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AFCON U-23: Olympics Eagles eye semis ticket

Nigeria will boost their chances of qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games if they beat familiar foes South Africa in their last group game of the on-going CAF U-23 African Cup of Nation tie today.

The two sides revived their hopes of progressing after they won their last matches. The Dream Team who suffered a shocking 1-0 loss to Cote d’Ivoire in their opening game secured a convincing 3-1 win over Zambia on Tuesday.

South Africa had earlier played a 1-1 with Zambia but raced to the top of the group with a 1-0 win over the Junior Elephants.

The two sides are locked in an age-old battle that has seen the two clash at all age-group levels‚ with the Nigerians coming out on top more often than not.

Coach Imama Amapakabo knows they don’t only have to keep the tradition; they have to do that in style by defeating their opponents to stand a chance of progressing to the semifinal and boost their chances of going to Tokyo next year.

The Olympics Eagles have not been convincing with their display so far, they are yet to even win over the fans despite the 3-1 win over Zambia.

Taiwo Awoniyi who scored the third goal on Tuesday has been a big addition to the squad after missing out on the opening match due to club commitment and Mainz forward will be expected to lead the assault against South Africa.

South Africa are yet to concede a goal in this tournament and striker Teboho Mokoena is hopeful they can keep Nigeria at bay to get‚ at the very least‚ the point they need.

“Nigeria have a great side‚ we need to focus again and go with the same mentality‚” he said.

“We have kept two clean sheets‚ if we keep another one then we know we are into the next round. Then we know we are safe.”

The top two teams in each pool advance to the semifinals‚ while the finalists and bronze-medal winners will book their place at the Olympic Games next year.

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Drogba gets backing to head Ivorian FA

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Drogba gets backing to head Ivorian FA

The body that oversees the third-tier of football in Ivory Coast has given its backing to Didier Drogba’s bid to become the next president of the Ivory Coast Football Federation (FIF).

The Chelsea and Ivory Coast legend, 41, announced his intention to run in September as he seeks to restore the image of the country’s game.

Drogba met with more than 20 presidents and representatives of the lower tier clubs on Wednesday in Abidjan to share his plans and bid to replace the incumbent Augustin Sidy Diallo, whose tenure runs out next month.

The official deadline for candidates to submit their applications to be considered for eligibility is also next month.

“Didier Drogba presented his program with a lot of maturity and humility that I must confess is very attractive and promising,” Anzouan Kouakou, president of Séraphin FC, told local media after Wednesday’s meeting.

“I think it would be very interesting for us to have a leader like him as federation president because he surprised us by his maturity in the management of football.

“Today he is an icon whose image attracts tourism but can also restore the image of Ivorian football.”

Antoine Gnapo, president of Gbalet Sport of Buyo, in south-western Ivory Coast admits that after presenting his program, the club presidents raised concerns, asked questions and made “relevant proposals”.

The former captain of the Elephants has also met with presidents of the division two clubs and plans to meet with those from the top tier as soon as possible.

However, not everyone shares the clubs’ confidence in Drogba, a former international who won the African Player of the Year honour twice.

Questions have been raised about his lack of experience, with 1992 Nations Cup winner Oumar Ben Salah suggesting Drogba still needs to learn the ropes before contesting for the top post.

“I don’t want him to interpret my words wrongly. But I’ve been wondering for days if Didier [Drogba] has thought it through properly,” said Ben Salah.

“He has a big name. He wore the national shirt even though he didn’t win the Nations Cup. He has proven his talent in clubs too, but FIF is too early for Drogba.

“Let him gather experience first, because that is his weakness. He played at the high level, but it’s not enough to want to come lead FIF.”

Ivorian football has been struggling since winning the 2015 African Nations Cup.

As defending champions, the Elephants suffered a humiliating group-stage exit from the 2017 tournament and reached the quarter-finals in Egypt this year.

In the absence of Drogba and brothers Kolo and Yaya Toure – the West African nation failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, having participated in the previous three editions in 2006, 2010 and 2014.

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