…as OAU Giants and UNIBEN Royals claim home wins
Defending champions of the Higher Institutions football league, UAM Tillers started the quarter final round of 2019 season on a bright note, all thanks to an 85th minute strike from Tillers Talisman and Kano Pillars forward Ebuka Odenigbo.
Visitors UAM Tillers struggled in Kano for most of the first 45 minutes, as BUK stallions comfortably dictated play to the delight of their home fans. The second half saw increased action and aggression from both teams, however Tillers have Kano Pillars, Ebuka David to thank for the away win as the prolific goal scorer, punished BUK in front of their home fans with an 85th minute strike to give his team an edge for the return leg in Makurdi.
In Calabar, 2018 season’s runners-up, UNICAL Malabites, couldn’t contain the piercing heat from ESUT Explorers as they lost 1-0 before their home crowd. Nnamani Favour’s 38th minute strike gave the Enugu side, who are yet to lose a match, an advantage to take along to Enugu.
Elsewhere in Benin, UNIBEN Royals delighted their home fans with a 1:0 win over visitors, UNILORIN warriors, a 56-minute strike from Odion Daniel was enough to close out the game in favour of the royals, despite pressure from the warriors from ILORIN.
OAU Giants defeated Lagos side, LASU Blazers, in Ife. Adeyemi Opeyemi scored twice in the 47th and 90th minute to gift the home fans a comfortable 2-0 victory. LASU Blazers will now have to overturn their fate in the first leg, when they take on OAU Giants in front of their home fans in Lagos, or bid the 2019 season good bye.
The league is organised by PACE Sports and Entertainment Marketing in partnership with the Nigerian Universities Games Association (NUGA).
West Ham to give Pellegrini more time despite poor form
West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini will be given the chance to turn round the club’s alarming slump in form.
Pellegrini has come under fire after a terrible run of results that has seen the Hammers slide from top six contenders to the edge of a relegation battle.
Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Burnley means they have now gone seven games without a win in all competitions, reports the BBC.
That run includes a four-goal Carabao Cup hammering at League One Oxford.
It has not gone unnoticed within the Hammers’ hierarchy that for the vast majority of those games Pellegrini was without first-choice keeper Lukasz Fabianski.
Fabianski tore a hip muscle against Bournemouth in September which will keep him out until January.
In Fabianski’s absence, replacement Roberto has conceded 11 goals in five games, having also been in goal for the Oxford United debacle.
West Ham face having to stand by Roberto for a run of fixtures up to the New Year that include meetings with London rivals Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal.
Pellegrini’s only alternative is 33-year-old David Martin, son of club legend Alvin, who arrived from Millwall in the summer and is yet to make an appearance for the club.
The situation has been described as a “nightmare” by club insiders, who say confidence amongst the defenders has been shattered.
West Ham have backed Pellegrini to the tune of £125m, including spending a club-record £45m on striker Sebastien Haller and £25m on Spain Under-21 forward Pablo Fornals.
The latter in particular has been a big disappointment, scoring only once – against Newport – in 13 appearances.
While it is accepted Pellegrini bears some responsibility for the current mess, more attention is being placed on the work of Sporting Director Mario Husillos, who arrived at West Ham with the Chilean in the summer of 2018.
With playmaker Mario Lanzini facing an extended period on the sidelines after being carried off at Burnley, there is a very real fear the situation could get worse.
This is likely to have a knock-on effect on the Hammers support, demolishing bridges club staff have worked so hard to build amid widespread disenchantment about the club’s move to the London Stadium.
U23 AFCON: Amapakabo gets Okechukwu, Awoniyi boost for Zambia
Coach Imama Amapakabo has received important boosts ahead of Tuesday’s make-or-break U23 AFCON battle against Zambia with the arrivals in camp of team captain Azubuike Okechukwu and star forward Taiwo Awoniyi.
The absence of the duo was greatly felt in the opening game of Group B that the defending champions lost by the odd goal to Cote d’Ivoire on Saturday, and Amapakabo is confident their arrival will spur his squad to a better performance against the Zambians.
“I am happy we now have Awoniyi and our captain, Azubuike. They are integral to the team and were influential in our qualifying matches. We will throw everything into the game against Zambia because we have left ourselves no choice at this point.
“I believe we have the team to not only overcome Zambia but go all the way in the tournament. We stumbled against the Ivorians but we have learnt from that and we now look forward to rescuing our campaign against the Zambians and South Africans.”
Former U17 World Cup winner Awoniyi, who plays for FSV Mainz 05 in the German top division, landed in Cairo late on Sunday, while Turkey-based Okechukwu, who also captained the Class of 2015 and to the gold medal in Senegal, arrived in the early hours of Monday.
Okechukwu’s midfield partnership with Kelechi Nwakali was impactful in the handsome home wins over Libya and Sudan in the qualifying series, while Awoniyi got the important opener and also created chances in the defeat of Sudan that landed the Olympic Eagles in Egypt.
Nigeria take on Zambia at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo on Tuesday in a game they must pick up the maximum points to return to contention for a place in the semi finals of the competition, ahead of their clash with South Africa on Tuesday.
Only the top three finishers at the U23 AFCON will qualify to fly Africa’s flag at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Tokyo, Japan next year.
Squirrels’ delegation arrives Uyo for Eagles
The delegation of the Senior Men’s National Team of Benin Republic, known as Squirrels, will land in Uyo, capital of Akwa Ibom State on Tuesday, ahead of Wednesday’s 2021 AFCON qualifying duel with the Super Eagles.
Both teams clash at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in the Match Day One encounter of the qualifying campaign as from 5pm on Wednesday. The two teams were also part of the 2019 AFCON finals in Egypt, with Nigeria winning the bronze medals while Benin Republic famously defeated Morocco while holding their own against Cameroon and Ghana.
Players of the Super Eagles began arriving in Uyo on Sunday, with defender Kenneth Omeruo and utility player Samuel Kalu among the early birds at the Ibom Meridien Hotel and Resorts.
CAF has named Senegalese official Issa Sy as referee for the match, to be assisted by compatriots Nouha Bangoura (assistant referee 1), El Hadji Abdoul Aziz Gueye (assistant referee 2) and Fatou Thioune (fourth official).
The Day 1 clash in the qualifying series will also see Munkaila Nassam Adam from Ghana as match commissioner while Kria Samir Bouzareah from Algeria will play the role of referee assessor.
The match officials arrived in Uyo on Monday.
Cameroon is the designated host nation for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals.
Wolves’ Adama Traore forced to withdraw from Spain squad
Wolverhampton Wanderers’ winger Adama Traore has withdrawn from the Spain squad after picking up an injury just a day after he was called up.
The 23-year-old was named by Spain on Saturday,despite reports suggesting he had decided to represent Mali.
“Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the call of the national team because of an injury in the gamewe played this Sunday against Aston Villa,” Traore told the Spanish team’s official website.
“I am sorry I cannot be in this call, but I will continue working to be in the best possible way for the next lists, God willing.
“I want to thank for the confidence that the coach has placed in me.
“This Monday I will have medical tests at my club, Wolverhampton, to know the extent of the injury.”
Traore, who himself was an injury replacement for Valencia’s Rodrigo Moreno, will be replaced by Paris St-Germain’s Pablo Sarabia, reports the BBC.
Spain-born Traore had been tipped to switch international allegiance to his parents’ homeland of Mali, despite representing the Spanish under-21 side.
The reports began when a photo of Traore with a Mali were circulating on social media.
He has played 11 times for Wolves in the Premier League this season after coming through Barcelona’s ‘La Masia’ youth system and going on to play for the club’s B team.
It means Traore will not be making his Spain debut in either of the team’s final two Euro 2020 qualifiers against Malta on November 15 and Romania three days later.
Serie A: Angry Ronaldo leaves stadium early
Cristiano Ronaldo reportedly left the Allianz Stadium before the final whistle of Juventus’s 1-0 Serie A win over Milan last night after being substituted for the second match in a week.
Paulo Dybala replaced Ronaldo on 55 minutes with the Argentina striker going on to score the winning goal 22 minutes later to keep Juventus top in Serie A ahead of Internazionale, reports Reuters.
Five-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo looked glum as he came off and directed some words at his coach, Maurizio Sarri, before heading to the changing rooms.
Sky Sport Italia reported that the 34-year-old former Real Madrid and Manchester United forward had left the stadium three minutes before the match finished.
However Sarri said he did not know whether Ronaldo, who joined Juve from Madrid in a surprise move in the summer of last year for £88m, had left the stadium early.
“Disrespectful to his teammates? Like I said, I don’t know,” Sarri said. “If it’s true that he left before the end it is a problem to be resolved with his teammates.”
“I have no problem with Cristiano, he should be thanked because he made himself available despite not being in the best condition,” said Sarri, the former Chelsea and Napoli head coach.
“In the last month he has had discomfort in his knee and this is a little problem for him.”
Ronaldo had reacted furiously after being substituted in his team’s 2-1 win against Lokomotiv Moscow midweek which saw Juventus advance to the Champions League last 16.
“The important thing is that he made himself available. If he gets angry when he comes out this is part of the game,” continued the Juventus coach.
“It’s only natural a player is going to be irritated about leaving the pitch, especially when he worked so hard to be there.
“All players who are trying to give their best will have at least five minutes of being annoyed when they are substituted, but a coach would in general be much more worried if he didn’t seem upset.”
Juventus, chasing a ninth straight Serie A title and unbeaten in all competitions under Sarri, who took over before the season started, moved to 32 points, a point ahead of Internazionale, who went top after a 2-1 home win over Verona on Saturday.
Milan’s problems continued as they were left down in 14th place on 13 points after their ninth successive away defeat by Juve in Serie A. But they gave an improved performance and had the better chances in the first half. The misfiring striker Krzysztof Piatek headed wide from an unmarked position and Lucas Paqueta’s looping header forced Wojciech Szczesny into a difficult save.
Hakan Calhanoglu also tested Szczesny in the second half with a free-kick before Dybala’s moment of brilliance settled the match. He nearly struck again in stoppage time but was denied by Donnarumma.
Elsewhere in Europe Sevilla took the spoils in a fiercely contested city derby on Sunday, beating Real Betis 2-1 away from home to move up to fourth in La Liga. Julen Lopetegui’s side took the lead in the 14th minute when the Argentinian Lucas Ocampos scooped up an attempted clearance inside the area and fired under the Betis keeper, Joel Robles.Betis’s top scorer Loren Moron snatched an equaliser towards the end of the first half but Luuk de Jong restored Sevilla’s lead and they withstood waves of late pressure to grind out the victory, prompting wild celebrations from Lopetegui on the sidelines.
In Ligue 1 Dimitri Payet scored twice as Marseillewon 2-1 against Lyon despite the second-half dismissal of Álvaro González.
Lyon said their team bus was attacked on the way to the stadium in Marseille. The club published photos of several smashed windows and tweeted that the safety of players was not sufficiently ensured despite earlier threats against them. Lyon’s president, Jean-Michel Aulas, said five objects hit the bus.
Payet put Marseille two goals to the good at half-time, first with a penalty and then a clinical finish as he was involved three times in a rapid counterattack. The second half was delayed for around five minutes as thick fog descended on the Stade Velodrome but Moussa Dembélé pulled one back after an error from González, who was then shown a straight red card for a professional foul on the former Celtic striker.
But the 10 men held on as Martin Terrier’s effort in the 90th minute flashed millimetres wide and Jason Denayer’s header was easily saved.
Brazilian player sent off in Ukraine for reacting to racist insults
Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazilian midfielder Taison was sent off in a Ukrainian league match against visitors Dynamo Kiev on Sunday for reacting to racist insults from the crowd.
A video of the incident showed that Taison stuck his finger up at a section occupied by Dynamo fans and then hoofed the ball into the stands.
Taison, 31, who has featured six times for Brazil and has played in Ukraine since 2011, reacted with disbelief and left the field in tears, reports Reuters.
The campaign group FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) said on Twitter that Taison’s team mate and follow Brazilian Dentinho reported the insults to the referee and a stadium announcement was made.
Following UEFA-recommended protocol, the referee then took the players to the dressing-room for five minutes, FARE said, before dismissing Taison and restarting the game which Shakhtar won 1-0.
The third step of the protocol would have been to abandon the match.
“Third step not activated, victim of racism sent off,” said FARE, which added that Dynamo fans also mocked a club campaign by displaying posters which said “Like to racism.”
In 2015, Dynamo Kiev were ordered by UEFA to play two European matches behind closed doors after four black spectators were attacked at their stadium during a match against Chelsea.
EPL: Guardiola wants ref to explain VAR decision after Man City defeat
Pep Guardiola said he was “not a magician” when asked about Manchester City’s title chances after his side were beaten 3-1 by Premier League leaders Liverpool.
The defeat was City’s second in five top-flight matches and left the champions nine points behind Liverpool, who remain unbeaten after 12 games this season, reports beinsports.com.
Fourth-placed City will entertain third-placed Chelsea in their first game back after the international break and Guardiola said he hoped his side would maintain the level of performance they showed at Anfield.
Asked whether Liverpool could be caught, Guardiola said: “I don’t know, I am not a magician. I cannot know the future.
“Hopefully after the national team, people come back and then [we face] Chelsea at home.
“What happened today is we showed why we are the champions. In this stadium we played incredible.
“I am proud of my team more than ever against the strongest team in Europe. I am so proud. We played so good.”
Guardiola was incensed on the sidelines as key decisions went against his side, with City’s pleas for handball against Trent Alexander-Arnold waved away when they claimed for a penalty.
He refused to discuss the decisions after the game, and insisted – with tongue firmly in cheek – his thanks to officials while shaking hands at the final whistle were genuine.
To the suggestion of sarcasm, Guardiola replied: “No way, I congratulate them. And I didn’t say anything here.
“It would not be so nice after a defeat to complain about the referees, so ask the referees. Ask the referees, please not me.
“Ask [referees chief] Mike Riley and the guys in the VAR and the other ones.
“I would like to talk about our performance. As an opponent, with the problems that we have, it was one of the best ways we played.
“We played in the way that is why we are back-to-back champions. We showed that many times.
“There are three teams in front that have more chances to be champions than us but we are going to try.
“In football, you can’t always win in here in Anfield. I am so proud of my team.”
Over 200 jostle for honours at FirstBank Lagos Open Golf Championship
ver 200 players from around the world will feature in the 58th edition of the FirstBank Amateur Open Golf Championship which will get underway at the golf section of Ikoyi Club on Friday November 15, organsiers, Concierge Sports, have announced.
Speaking at a pre-tournament briefing heralding this year’s edition, Kayode Oguntayo, representative of Concierge Sports said, Lagos Amateur Open had now gone international having been listed by World Amateur Golf Rankings, thus opening it to golfers from across the world.
“The listing has given the championship a heightened level of recognition on the world stage, as far as amateur golf championships are concerned. The FirstBank Lagos Amateur Open Golf Championship is now one of the international golf events where all amateur golfers worldwide can participate and earn points to aide there WAGR rankings, he explained.
Apart from opening the tournament to the world, FirstBank has also brought two European PGA Professionals to coordinate coaching clinics for special guests, spectators and Children.
Also speaking at the briefing, the Chief Executive Officer of FirstBank Nigeria Limited, Adesola Adeduntan, who was represented by Group Head, Telecommunications and Other Conglomerates said the continuous sponsorship of the event was a reflection of the bank’s long lasting association that aligns with heritage, values performance and quality.
“FirstBank has been in the business of supporting sports in Nigeria throughout its 125 years of existence. We have partnered with individuals and institutions to provide support, not only in the sports arena, but also in Education, the Arts and Small and Medium Enterprises”, he explains further.
Golf Captain Babatunde Johnson while congratulating FirstBank for sustaining the sponsorship said all effort at growing the game of golf in the country should be encouraged.
Zenith Bank/Delta Principals’ Cup: Semifinals take place on Wednesday
he semifinals of the Delta State Principals’ Cup Football Competition, a developmental tournament for Secondary Schools and sponsored by Zenith Bank plc, take place on Wednesday in two different centres in the state.
The competition revived three years ago courtesy of a partnership arrangement between Governor Ifeanyi Okowa administration and Zenith Bank started in September with over 850 schools participating from the preliminary stage.
After tough battles at the Local Government level, 25 teams competed in the zonal stage which produced the quarterfinalists.
On Wednesday 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 tango 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 on Wednesday at 2pm in Kwale and Ughelli respectively.
Sunday said the four teams would still undergo a screening process before match day since the organisers are keen to ensure a true winner emerges from the competition.
The Commissioner for basic and Secondary School Education in Delta State, Chief Patrick Ukah, at the weekend applauded the standard of the competition so far.
Ukah said: “This is an exciting competition with the young lads exhibiting their talents and so we are happy with the high standard displayed so far.
“We expect more from the semis on Wednesday as there will also be huge excitement as the event gets to its climax.”
The final of the competition is scheduled to take place at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba on November 21.
Arsenal should buy Ndidi – Redknapp
Jamie Redknapp has identified Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi as the type of player Arsenal have been ‘crying out for for years’.
On Saturday, Ndidi dazzled in midfield as the Foxes grabbed a 2-0 win against Arsenal at the King Power Stadium.
The 22-year-old completed the most tackles (7) in the encounter, managed a 100 per cent passing accuracy in the final third and also made key interceptions (3) and successful take-ons (3).
The Nigeria international is currently the best tackler in the English top-flight with 60 tackles completed this season.
Former Liverpool captain Redknapp believes the Nigerian might be the solution to Arsenal’s problem in the defensive midfield.
“He does a great job. He’s the sort of player that I think Arsenal have been crying out for for years,” Redknapp said, per Express Sport.
“He’s 22 years of age, got great pace, good energy, can pass the ball.
“I think about the game earlier in the season when he gave the ball away against Chelsea and I thought ‘I wonder how he’ll react’. He ended up scoring a goal after it.
“For such a young man he plays with so much assurance and the sort of player that [Adams] would have loved to have in front of you.
“You [Adams] played with the magnificent Patrick Vieira. At 22 years of age, he’s got it all.”
Former Arsenal centre-back Tony Adams agreed that Ndidi might be the cover the Gunners need for their defence.
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