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I’M READY FOR NOLLYWOOD ROLE –AG GOLD MEDALIST, Enekwechi

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I’M READY FOR NOLLYWOOD ROLE  –AG GOLD MEDALIST, Enekwechi

Nigeria and African record holder in men’s Shot Put, Chukwuebuka Enekwechi, told CHARLES OGUNDIYA that it was not a difficult decision for him competing for Nigeria despite been born and raised in America. Excerpts…

 

It was another podium finish for you at your first African Games, how does it feel winning the gold medal in Morocco?

 

I feel great, I didn’t think I was in the best shape to achieve what I did but if you look at the series, every time I kept on improving on my last throw, so I don’t know where it came from but sometimes it is mental. At times you will be physically ready or at times unprepared, but if your mind can take it, then you will have a performance you could be proud of.

 

 

You won the athletics championships in Asaba last year by setting Championship Record of 21.08m, and now the track and field event of the African Games with a new Games record of 21.48m. Should Nigerians expect similar performance at the World Championships and the Olympic Games?

 

 

I can’t predict something like that but definitely I am working towards doing well at the World Championships, and also at the Olympics.

 

 

It has been a tough year for you taking part in several competitions, how have you been able to keep yourself fit all these while?

 

 

I don’t know really, but I pray a lot and like you said, this is the ninth month of competitiveness, it’s been pretty difficult, but somehow I have not had any major injury and so I am happy. I do a lot of things day to day, I make sure I eat well, a lot of strength, speed and I do a lot of technical work, I try to give myself the best opportunity to do well in each competition and still come out better in the next.

 

You were not happy despite setting a festival record at the 2018 National Sports Festival in Abuja last year, what really happened?

 

 

The long story short, the competition started without me knowing I took a taxi and rushed to the competition arena for my first throw in round one and there wasn’t a schedule printed out for the tournament which shouldn’t have been the case.

 

 

 

So how did you achieve your target despite the obstacles?

 

 

For the festival I didn’t achieve my goal. I wanted to throw well over 21m in December to set me up well for the larger meets like the Diamond League in the New Year, but at the end of the day it didn’t help me well as far as my rankings for the year.

 

What has 2019 given you as an athlete?

 

 

I will say it has been quite an experience, I know how to travel better and compete better even when I am not in great shape like I threw 21.8 two weeks ago and I was not picking, but I don’t crucify myself. So far in 2019, I have had about 15 competitions, and with each one I learn something new, there was a time when I had problems throwing 21m but I knew what to do once I went back home and back to training. I changed my diet, changed my lifting and it has been a learning experience for me all the way.

 

 

How easy or difficult has it been competing for Nigeria?

 

There are many challenges that people have never seen before, that Nigerian athletes will face regularly, but at the end of the day, there is a kind of family aspect to it that I love, there is kind of camaraderie about being part of Team Nigeria, I have seen some good days and some bad, but I am still here doing well for the country.

 

Was it a case of trying hard to convince you to compete for Nigeria?

 

 

I have always wanted to compete for Nigeria, the reason I wanted to do that was not far-fetched. Been born and raised in America, I still wanted to have that link with Nigeria my country, and I feel that the best way to do that would be doing something for the country in terms of athletics, something I am good at. So as to bridge that gap of been born in America, I always wanted to be a Nigerian athlete. I actually wanted to represent Nigeria at the World University Games in 2015, but I had a serious back and groin injury that ended my season early, then my next opportunity was the Olympics in 2016, I didn’t qualify and the next year was 2017, I have been trying since 2015 but it finally worked out in 2017.

 

 

Are you fulfilled competing for Nigeria?

 

 

It has been quite a success but I have not done it alone and I’d love to say thanks for the opportunities. Yes I will say there have been some successes, there have been mishaps, but we have to focus on the positives.

 

How did you come into athletics?

 

 

I wanted to do a sport in High School, so when in my last three years, I decided I wanted to do individual sport; wrestling or track and field but the track and field coach found me first, he gave me the medical form and I filled it, gave it a trial and since then I loved it.

 

 

You said wrestling or track and field, have you been involved in wrestling before?

 

 

No, but I was going to try then.

 

 

What interests you in wrestling?

 

I just loved how the great athletes in the sport were well rounded. I love the head tail of the sports, been alone in the ring by yourself, it is kind of the same thing with throws, you are all alone in the ring by yourself and the results depend on you alone, your passion and also it is a points system, I just fell in love with the sport, but fortunately, I found myself in track and field.

 

 

What has been the support from your parents?

 

 

They have been really supportive, although now that I am 26 and i don’t really rely on them for finances and stuff like that, they speaks to me regularly, give me encouragement. When I was in Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games, there were 12 to 14 hours’ time difference, my mother was the first one to text me after I won the silver medal, so despite being in New York, she was watching and following my progress. Also before I joined track and field, they were not fans of the sports, but it has been a massive support from them.

 

 

Did they in anyways raise objections when you decided to compete for Nigeria?

 

 

They backed me and supported my decision. I explained it to them and it wasn’t even too much of a discussion; it was just that they wanted to be sure I knew what I was doing and they were very supportive of that decision.

 

 

Do you always look forward to competing for Nigeria?

 

 

It is always a big reunion whenever we have a competition anywhere in the world. That’s what I always look forward to, not just because there is going to be monetary rewards or getting a standard, I always look forward to seeing my friends again. It is a good experience for me.

 

 

Do you relate with the foreign-based athletes more than those back at home?

 

 

We have similar struggles, similar desires and goals, we are all here for the same reason, so I don’t think there is a big gap at all between the foreign-based and home-based. Maybe there might be a difference of expression, because we grew up in different environments, but we are all focussing on one goal, we all practice all together and sports is one thing that unites us all.

 

 

Apart from been part of the country’s track and field, do you engage yourself in other activities like taking Nigerian cuisine and other things like that?

 

 

The region I am in, the Midwest, there is not a very big Nigerian presence, so it’s kind of difficult finding Nigerian cuisine, but I do partake in Nigerian music and if i get the Nigerian food i grew up with I eat. My parents raised me that way. Foods like garri, egusi soup, moin moin, which is one of my favourites; those are the foods I grew up with.

 

 

How has the struggle been since you stopped depending on your parents?

 

 

I wouldn’t call myself wealthy perse, but I have been able to make an honest living through track and field, I am earning my living now and I hope it continues like this. It is a job for me at this point and I know I am doing a good job.

Are you planning to come back and set up something to give back to the country, especially the younger ones still trying to make it in the country?

 

 

I am already thinking about that but not at the moment because I am still kind of building. This is just my third year as a professional, I have not really put too much thought into it but it is something I would love to do in the future, grassroots, get the kids involved and probably some funding if I could be in a position to do that.

 

What is your advice for the athletes back home in Nigeria?

 

 

The word speaks for itself, there is nothing special about those in America, people have been painting pictures that America is a place flowing with milk and honey, but nothing much like that. The talents are abound in Nigeria and if you look at someone like Divine Oduduru, he was a great athlete before coming to America, they just polished what was already golden and he started exploding like a mega star. If it works for him, it can also work for others. The way I look at it, Nigeria is full of talents, it’s just for those talents to discover themselves, make themselves available for the coaches, get that exposure and they can be great. I think it is possible for them to excel back at home in Nigeria.

 

 

What do you think of your co athlete, Mike Edward, going to the Big Brother Nigeria House?

 

 

I was very happy for Mike when I heard about it, I actually sent him a text when I heard about the BBN thing, I think it is a big exposure for him. He is planning for 2020 season and doing Big Brother is a big thing for himself, the sport, and for entertainment as well. It is now known that athletes can be public figures apart from someone that just runs, jumps or throws. I love what he has achieved in the house so far.

 

 

Do you think other athletes can try their hands on maybe going into music, movies and so on, and personally will you try that?

 

 

I do think about it at times and if anybody is reading or listening to this interview, you can scout me, recruit me for a Nollywood movie, I can act some movies. People are more entertaining than they think; all you need is an opportunity. I think I like the fact that Mike is taking advantage of that opportunity and I’d love more athletes to do that.

 

 

How do you manage women?

 

 

For me it is very easy and that’s why I have some success in track and field. I am very goal oriented, I don’t get distracted easily by anything, drugs, alcohol, wild girls, I just remain focused and that has been helpful going forward.

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Spanish Federation fines Barca £265 for Griezmann approach

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Spanish Federation fines Barca £265 for Griezmann approach

Barcelona have been fined only 300 euros (£265) by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) for their approach to Antoine Griezmann while he was at La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid.

Spanish champions Barcelona signed Griezmann after paying his 120m-euro (£107m) buyout clause on July 1.

But the federation said Barca broke its rules by negotiating with Griezmann without Atletico’s permission.

Atletico believed his buyout clause should have been 200m euros (£179m).

They claimed that Barca began talking to the player in March, when that was the size of his buyout clause.

His cost then dropped to 120m euros at the start of July, which was when he signed for Barca, but Atletico claimed the “commitment of the player and Barcelona was closed” prior to the clause reducing.

The player was absolved of any responsibility by the federation.

The RFEF’s statement read: “Taking into account the economic capacity of the club and the amount of the fine, this committee is aware that the payment of 300 euros, beyond its merely symbolic character, will not damage the sanctioned club and, probably, will not persuade other clubs in the same situation in the future to adjust their conduct to the regulations.”

However, the RFEF determined that was “not a sufficient reason” to impose a one-match closure of the Nou Camp – its only other possible sanction – which it says is reserved for “infractions of a different nature”.

Griezmann – who had announced in May he would leave the Madrid side – signed a five-year deal with Barca, which includes an 800m euro (£717m) release clause, to become the world’s sixth most expensive signing, reports the BBC.

Following the move, Atletico released a statement in which they expressed their “strongest repulsion for the behaviour of both, especially Barcelona”.

The Madrid club previously reported Barcelona to FIFA over an alleged illegal approach for Griezmann in December 2017.

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Eagles B lands in Dakar for WAFU Cup of Nations

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Eagles B lands in Dakar for WAFU Cup of Nations

Nigeria’s home-based senior players have arrived in Dakar, capital of Senegal for the 2nd WAFU-FOX Cup of Nations starting in the Senegalese city of Thies on Saturday, September 28.

A team of 21 players and six officials flew by Air Cote d’Ivoire early on Thursday morning from Abuja to Abidjan, and then connected the Senegalese capital by the same airline.

The updated fixtures show that Nigeria, silver medallists at the inaugural edition staged in Cape Coast, Ghana two years ago, will tango with the Sparrow Hawks of Togo in their first match of the competition at the Stade Lat Dior Thies on Sunday.

It is a quick opportunity for the Eagles to avenge their 4-1 lashing by the Hawks in a 2020 African Nations Championship qualifying match in Lome last Sunday.

Victory over the Sparrows in the first elimination round will take the Eagles to the second phase, before the semi-finals and the final. The tournament ends on October 13.

All 16 participating teams will partake in the first elimination round, with host nation Senegal up against Guinea Bissau, Burkina Faso against Mauritania, Cote d’Ivoire against Cape Verde and Guinea against Benin Republic.

Sierra Leone, drafted in to replace Morocco that executed a late withdrawal, will be up against Liberia, while Mali takes on Niger Republic and Gambia will tackle Ghana.

21 EAGLES B FOR WAFU CUP

Goalkeepers: Adamu Abubakar (Wikki Tourists); Galadima Mohammed (Nasarawa United); Theophilus Afelokhai (Enyimba FC)

Defenders: Olisa Ndah (Remo Stars); Stephen Manyo (Enyimba FC); Udochukwu Anumudu (Lobi Stars); Okon Nya (Akwa United); Ebube Duru (Lobi Stars); Etboy Akpan (Akwa United); John Lazarus (Lobi Stars);

Midfielders: Sikiru Alimi (Lobi Stars); Fatai Gbadamosi (Shooting Stars); Williams Ukeme (Wikki Tourists); Ndifreke Effiong (Akwa United); Chisom Orji (Collin Edwin Academy); Olatunji Oluwadamilare (Enyimba FC); Samuel Matthias (Akwa United)

Forwards: Sunusi Ibrahim (Nasarawa United); Seth Mayi (Remo Stars); Tosin Omoyele (Plateau United); Mfon Udoh (Akwa United)

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International friendly: Omeruo, Abdullahi, Awaziem back for Brazil

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International friendly: Omeruo, Abdullahi, Awaziem back for Brazil

*Rohr picks Azeez, Olayinka for big game

 

Technical Adviser Gernot Rohr has picked in-form Granada of Spain midfielder Ramon Azeez and Czech-based forward Peter Olayinka in Nigeria’s 23-man squad for the prestige friendly with five-time world champions Brazil in Singapore on Sunday, October 13.

Rohr also have defenders Kenneth Omeruo, Abdullahi Shehu and Chidozie Awaziem back from injury, otherwise the squad is largely unchanged from the side that was forced to a 2-2 draw by Ukraine in Dnipro on September 10.

Goalkeepers Francis Uzoho, Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Maduka Okoye are retained, but England –based Leon Balogun and Russia-based Bryan Idowu are left out of the defence equation.

Former U20 team captain Ramon Azeez is called just as Leicester of England’s Kelechi Iheanacho is left out, while Girondins Bordeaux’s Joshua Maja will sit this one out, his place taken by another new boy, Peter Olayinka.

England-based midfielder Wilfred Ndidi also returns after missing the Ukraine encounter with injury. Alex Iwobi, Oghenekaro Etebo and Scotland-based Joseph Ayodele-Aribo, who scored on his debut against Ukraine, are all back in midfield, with Victor Osimhen, Samuel Chukwueze, Moses Simon, Samuel Kalu, Paul Onuachu and Emmanuel Dennis all back in the frontline.

Substantive captain Ahmed Musa is still down with injury.

All invited players are expected to arrive in Singapore on Wednesday, October 9.

Nigeria and Brazil will tango in a much –anticipated encounter at the Singapore National Stadium, Kallang, Singapore on Sunday, October 13, 23 years after Nigeria, on their way to winning Africa’s first Olympic football gold, spanked the Selecao in the semi-finals at the Athens Stadium in the State of Georgia, USA.

23 EAGLES TO BATTLE BRAZIL

Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Omonia FC, Cyprus); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Heartland FC); Emil Maduka Okoye (Fortuna Dusseldorf, Germany)

Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor FC, Turkey); Chidozie Awaziem (CD Leganes, Spain); William Ekong (Udinese FC, Italy); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Oluwasemilogo Ajayi (West Bromwich Albion, England)

Midfielders: Alexander Iwobi (Everton FC, England); Anderson Esiti (PAOK Salonica, Greece); Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City FC, England); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Joseph Ayodele-Aribo (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland); Ramon Azeez (Granada FC, Spain)

Forwards: Victor Osimhen (Lille OSC, France); Moses Simon (FC Nantes, France); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain); Samuel Kalu (Girondins Bordeaux, France); Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium); Emmanuel Dennis (Club Brugge, Belgium); Peter Olayinka (SK Slavia Prague, Czech Republic)

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Euro round-up: PSG stunned at home by Reims as Real Madrid go top

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Paris Saint-Germain slumped to a shock 2-0 home defeat against Reims, the champions’ second loss in Ligue 1 this season. Hassane Kamara headed Reims into a first-half lead and Boulaye Dia made sure of all three points for the visitors in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

PSG, who beat Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes in the Champions League last week, went down to their first defeat of the season at Rennes in August. Thomas Tuchel’s side remain top on goal difference, ahead of second-placed Angers.

Rachid Alioui scored two late goals as Angersmaintained their impressive start to the season with a 2-0 win at Toulouse. Alioui fired Angers into an 88th-minute lead direct from a free-kick and made sure of his side’s fifth league win of the season by finishing off a swift counter-attack in the fifth minute of added time.

Lyon are without a win in five league games after being held 2-2 at Brest. Moussa Dembélé’s opener for Lyon was quickly cancelled out by Yoann Court, who fired a late equaliser after the visitors had regained the lead through Maxwel Cornet.

In La Liga, Real Madrid took advantage of Athletic Bilbao’s slip to go top with a 2-0 win against Osasuna.

Bilbao’s 1-1 draw at bottom side Leganés left top spot up for grabs and although Atlético Madrid briefly seized pole position earlier in the evening, their city rivals overtook them.

The Brazilian teenagers Vinicius Junior, with his first goal since February, and the debutant Rodrygo scored the goals midway through either half in a 2-0 win over Osasuna which put Real clear of Atlético by a point.

Atlético won 2-0 at struggling Real Mallorcathanks to goals from Diego Costa – his first since March – and João Félix, although they finished the game with 10 men after Álvaro Morata was sent off after receiving two quick yellow cards.

Internazionale returned to the top of the Serie A table thanks to a goal from Danilo D’Ambrosio – but Antonio Conte’s side were ultimately lucky to squeeze past Lazio 1-0 at San Siro.

D’Ambrosio headed in a Cristiano Biraghi cross in the 23rd minute to set Inter on their way to a fifth win from five, yet the hero of the match was their goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, who repelled endless Lazio attempts.

Failing to keep up with the pace-setters were Napoli, who fell to a surprise 1-0 home defeat by Cagliari.

Dries Mertens hit both posts during the second half before Cagliari substitute Lucas Castro scored with a free header against the run of play in the 87th minute. Kalidou Koulibaly was sent off for dissent after the goal.

Atalanta’s fine start to the season continued as substitute Duván Zapata and Marten De Roon scored in a 2-0 win at Roma that took the Bergamo side up to third, reports The Guardian.

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FIFA to cap fees paid to agents, international loan deals

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FIFA to cap fees paid to agents, international loan deals

FIFA has announced a series of measures to restrict fees paid to players’ agents and the amount of international loan deals clubs can be involved in.

They will see agents of the selling club receive a maximum of 10% of the transfer fee.

In addition, the cap will be 3% of the player’s fee and 3% of the player’s fee for agents of a buying club.

The recommendations from the Football Stakeholders Committee will go to the FIFA Council meeting on October 24.

The Premier League paid out more than £260m to agents during 2018-19 – an increase of £49m on the previous 12 months.

The restriction on international loans is designed to “prevent player hoarding and ensure that loans have a valid sporting purpose for youth development as opposed to commercial purposes”.

For players aged 22 and over, from next season clubs will be limited to eight international loans in and out, with that number dropping to six by 2022-23.

There will also be a maximum of three loans in and three out by the same two clubs, reports the BBC.

The new guidelines are part of FIFA’s ongoing process to reform the transfer system, in order to protect its integrity and prevent abuses.

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Carabao Cup: Its Chelsea v Man United, Liverpool v Arsenal in 4th Round

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Carabao Cup: Its Chelsea v Man United, Liverpool v Arsenal in 4th Round

The draw for the Carabao Cup fourth round saw two tasty ties, with Premier League leaders Liverpool hosting Arsenal and Chelsea facing Manchester United.

Holders Manchester City are at home against Southampton, Aston Villa play Wolves and Everton face Watford.

In an all-League Two clash, Crawley play Colchester, who knocked out Tottenham on penalties.

Oxford will entertain Sunderland in an all-League One encounter.

For the first time in the competition’s 59-year history, no Championship side made it through to the fourth round, reports the BBC.

Matches are to be played in the week commencing October 28.

Round of 16 Draw

Oxford v Sunderland

Liverpool v Arsenal

Crawley v Colchester

Chelsea v Manchester United

Manchester City v Southampton

Burton Albion v Leicester

Everton v Watford

Aston Villa v Wolves

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Carabao Cup: Its Chelsea v Man United, Liverpool v Arsenal in 4th Round

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Carabao Cup: Its Chelsea v Man United, Liverpool v Arsenal in 4th Round

The draw for the Carabao Cup fourth round saw two tasty ties, with Premier League leaders Liverpool hosting Arsenal and Chelsea facing Manchester United.

Holders Manchester City are at home against Southampton, Aston Villa play Wolves and Everton face Watford.

In an all-League Two clash, Crawley play Colchester, who knocked out Tottenham on penalties.

Oxford will entertain Sunderland in an all-League One encounter.

For the first time in the competition’s 59-year history, no Championship side made it through to the fourth round, reports the BBC.

Matches are to be played in the week commencing October 28.

Round of 16 Draw

Oxford v Sunderland

Liverpool v Arsenal

Crawley v Colchester

Chelsea v Manchester United

Manchester City v Southampton

Burton Albion v Leicester

Everton v Watford

Aston Villa v Wolves

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PSG lose first home match since May 2018

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PSG lose first home match since May 2018

Paris St-Germain lost at home in the league for the first time since May 2018 as they were beaten 2-0 by Reims.

The French champions beat Real Madrid 3-0 in the Champions League last week but looked a shadow of that side in this game, failing to truly test Reims goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic.

Instead, Reims took the lead in the first half when Hassane Kamara headed home.

Boulaye Dia’s bicycle kick in injury time gave Reims a deserved win, reports the BBC.

PSG remain top of Ligue 1 with 15 points from seven games, with Reims eighth on 11.

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PSG lose first home match since May 2018

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PSG lose first home match since May 2018

Paris St-Germain lost at home in the league for the first time since May 2018 as they were beaten 2-0 by Reims.

The French champions beat Real Madrid 3-0 in the Champions League last week but looked a shadow of that side in this game, failing to truly test Reims goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic.

Instead, Reims took the lead in the first half when Hassane Kamara headed home.

Boulaye Dia’s bicycle kick in injury time gave Reims a deserved win, reports the BBC.

PSG remain top of Ligue 1 with 15 points from seven games, with Reims eighth on 11.

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La Liga: Madrid maintain unbeaten start, top table with 2-0 Osasuna win

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La Liga: Madrid maintain unbeaten start, top table with 2-0 Osasuna win

Real Madrid continued their unbeaten start to the La Liga season by beating Osasuna 2-0 to return to the top of the table.

Manager Zinedine Zidane rested several of his first-team players, including Gareth Bale, before the Madrid derby with Atletico on Saturday.

Despite a strong start by the visitors, Real took the lead when Vinicius Junior curled in his first goal of the season.

Rodrygo added a second with a clinical low strike soon after coming on, reports the BBC.

Real, who have won four and drawn two of their league games, are top with 14 points, one ahead of second-placed Atletico.

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