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US Open: Andreescu sets up Williams final

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US Open: Andreescu sets up Williams final

Bianca Andreescu was outplayed for extended stretches in her US Open semi-final on Thursday night against the resurgent Belinda Bencic.

But the 15th-seeded teenager from Ontario was able to find another level when it mattered most in a 7-6 (3), 7-5 victory at Arthur Ashe Stadium, conjuring her best shotmaking on the most important points to reach the final in her first ever appearance in the main draw here.

“I think when I’m down, I play my best tennis,” Andreescu said. “Whenever my back is against the wall, I think I’m just extra focused in those moments.”

Bencic, the No 13 seed from Switzerland, held comfortably throughout the opening set without facing a break point, while Andreescu was made to labor through her service games, saving all six break chances she faced including a set point at 4-5, only to run away with the tie-breaker in smash-and-grab fashion.

Then after falling behind 2-5 in the second, Andreescu won the last five games on the trot to race across the finish line after two hours and 12 minutes, becoming the first US Open debutante to reach the final since Venus Williams in 1997 and only the second Canadian woman to make it this far at any major.

“I’ve always dreamt of this moment ever since I was a little kid,” said Andreescu, who struck 40 winners including seven aces to 38 unforced errors. “But I don’t think many people would have actually thought that it would become a reality.”

Certainly not 52 weeks ago when Andreescu was ranked 208th in the world after a first-round loss in the US Open qualifying draw. But she’s won 32 of 36 matches in a remarkable breakout season, capturing titles at Indian Wells and Toronto while surging up to No 15 in the rankings. It’s been more than six months since she lost a completed match.

Now the indefatigable 19-year-old from the Toronto suburb of Mississauga is one win from a first major championship in only her fourth main-draw appearance at a grand slam and can eclipse a record held by Maria Sharapova, who broke through at 2004 Wimbledon in her seventh attempt.

It won’t be easy.

Andreescu, who is the first man or woman born in the 2000s to reach a final at one of the sport’s four bedrock events, advances to face six-time US Open champion Serena Williams, the No 8 seed who brushed aside Elina Svitolina in Thursday night’s first match and will be taking a fourth crack at moving level with Margaret Court atop the all-time grand slam leaderboard.

A triumph for the precocious Canadian would also be notable given that women’s tennis is hardly the province of prodigies and starlets it once was: Not since Sharapova won the 2006 US Open aged 19 has a teenager captured a major title.

The nearly 19 years between Andreescu and Williams is the largest age difference ever in a women’s grand slam final, eclipsing the previous mark set by 1991 US Open finalists Martina Navratilova and Monica Seles, who were born 17 years and 45 days apart. The pair met once before in last month’s Toronto final when Williams retired with a back injury trailing 1-3 after just 19 minutes.

“Having those four games against her I think is going to help me on Saturday,” said Andreescu, who is unbeaten in seven career matches against opponents ranked in the top 10.

Bencic, who was bidding to become only the second Swiss woman to reach a major final after her longtime mentor Martina Hingis, played a cleaner and steadier baseline game throughout the first set in the grand slam semi-final debut for both players, forcing Andreescu to fight off break points in the fourth, sixth and 10th games. But the 22-year-old lost her nerve in the tie-breaker, making her first double fault of the night followed by a glut of unforced errors to gift Andreescu the opener.

“It wasn’t easy at all,” Andreescu said. “She hits the ball really hard and really flat I think every shot. My knees were to the ground. It wasn’t too fun playing her. That’s what makes her such a great player.”

She added: “But the main reason I won today I think is because I just kept fighting. I never let up.”

The world No 12 was able recollect and break Andreescu in her opening service game of the second, then a second time for 4-1. But the highest ranked teenager on the tour found a vein of form as her opponent came apart, keeping Bencic off rhythm with a clever mix of angles, slices, high balls and drop shots and breaking three times as many return games to close the show, reports The Guardian.

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Bulgaria v England racism: Bulgarian PM calls for football chief to resign  

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The Bulgarian Prime Minister has called for the head of the country’s football association to resign after England players were racially abused in a European qualifier in Sofia on Monday.
Boyko Borissov “strongly condemned” the behaviour, which included Nazi salutes and monkey chants, reports the BBC.
The match, which England won 6-0, was halted twice because of racist behaviour by home fans .
The British government is writing to UEFA on Tuesday to demand more action.
Downing Street says Prime Minister Boris Johnson has seen the footage and he thinks it is “vile and has no place in football or anywhere else”.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Borissov called his nation “one of the most tolerant countries in the world” but said it is “unacceptable” people there connect with racism and xenophobia.
“I call on Borislav Mihaylov to immediately resign as president of the Bulgarian Football Union,” he said.
“After yesterday’s shameful loss of the Bulgarian National Team and given the bad results of our football, I ordered to end any relationship with BFU, including financial, until the withdrawal of Borislav Mihaylov from the post.”
England forward Raheem Sterling tweeted to describe the call for Mihaylov to resign as a “good move”.
The Vasil Levski Stadium was already subject to a partial closure for the match after Bulgaria were sanctioned for racist behaviour during Euro 2020 qualifiers against Kosovo and the Czech Republic.
Before the match, BFU President Mihaylov had complained to UEFA about “unjust branding” after the build-up was overshadowed by fears England’s players could be subjected to abuse.
Mihaylov, a former Reading goalkeeper, played at three World Cups for Bulgaria and is a member of UEFA’s Executive Committee.

‘Bulgaria should be expelled from the competition’
UEFA told BBC Sport any action in response to Monday’s events would have to follow on from a disciplinary committee, which in turn has to wait for a referee’s report.
Anti-discriminatory body Fare has called for Bulgaria to be expelled from the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.
“We think that after what happened, UEFA has it in their power to kick Bulgaria out of Euro 2020 qualification for sure,” said Fare Eastern Europe development officer Pavel Klymenko.
“There have been too many incidents, too much negligence from the Bulgarian FA. UEFA should make an example of the Bulgarian FA and expel them from the competition.”
‘Kane taking the players off would have sent a huge message’
In line with UEFA protocol, England had the option to walk off the pitch but they continued to play the full 90 minutes.
England defender Tyrone Mings, one of the players who was abused, said “the manager, the team and the supporting staff” came together to make the decision to play and he was “very proud” of the decision.
However, former England defender Joleon Lescott said it would have sent a “huge message to the world” if captain Harry Kane had led the team off.
“You’ve got to think if I’m racist, the last person I want to hear is Raheem Sterling, I don’t care what he says or what he thinks but I might listen to a Harry Kane or I might listen to a Jordan Henderson because they’re the players I’ve come to watch and I admire because I’m racist,” former Manchester City and Everton defender Lescott said.
“It’s great that we’re looking to do it collectively but if Harry Kane just took that ball and said we’re going, the message that would send to the world would be huge, more than Raheem Sterling.”

What happened during the game?
After making a pass in the first half, Mings glanced over his shoulder and could be heard calling towards the touchline: “Did you hear that?”
Shortly afterwards, in the 28th minute, the game was stopped.
Striker Harry Kane was in conversation with referee Ivan Bebek on the halfway line while a stadium announcement was made to condemn racist abuse and warn fans that the game could be abandoned if it continued. At the same time, England manager Southgate was talking to a number of his players.
The game resumed but was stopped again just before half-time. Southgate and several England players were in discussion with match officials before the game was restarted for a second time.
A group of Bulgaria supporters wearing black hooded tops – some wearing bandanas covering their faces – started to leave the stadium after the game was halted for a second time. BBC Radio 5 Live reported that some made racist gestures while heading towards the exits.
After six minutes of time added at the end of the first half because of the delay, Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov was seen in a heated debate with a section of home supporters near the tunnel while the rest of the players headed for the dressing rooms for half-time.

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Eaglets lose 2-1 to Sao Paulo in friendly

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Five-time world champions, Golden Eaglets of Nigeria lost 2-1 to Sao Paulo U17 side in a friendly game played at the Sorocaba Sports Complex in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil on Monday evening.

The Nigerian boys approached the game with confidence and were in control at the opening minutes of the game, with Olakunle Olusegun missing the target narrowly when he should have scored.

It was Sao Paulo FC that drew the first blood with the first chance they created. A beautiful lop from the midfield was well –controlled by Danilo Silva with his left foot, beating Simon Omon in the process, and he ran into the box with a perfect finish in the 18th minute.

Thereafter, the Eaglets unleashed series of attacks in search of an equalizer. Unfortunately, Ibrahim Mohammed and Olusegun failed to convert the chances that were created from the midfield.

Peter Ukeme, who appeared not physically fit was replaced after 35 minutes by Akinkunmi Amoo and the introduction of the stocky attacking midfielder presented a big threat to the Brazilians even as the first half ended with Nigeria trailing 1-0.

It was a different ball game entirely in the second half as the Eaglets came in full-blast search for the equaliser. Monsuru Abdulsalam’s left footed shot inside the box was parried by the Sao Paulo goalkeeper for a corner kick. The resultant corner kick was not well-connected, but there was a glimpse of hope that the equaliser was lurking around and it came few minutes later when Monsuru dribbled three defenders, surged into the box and was hacked down for a penalty kick.

Olusegun converted the opportunity to make it 1-1. The Eaglets continued piling pressure to break the defence of Sao Paulo for a second time but the goalkeeper came severally to the rescue of the Brazilians.

As time ticked away, Sao Paulo’s attackers pounced on a loose ball from the midfield, launched a counter attack and a cross from the left side of the midfield was neatly jabbed into the net by Enrique Santos in the 85th minute.

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Rohr: Draw with Brazil is big booster for our AFCON race

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Super Eagles’ Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, has landed his playing body a huge pat on the back for a gutsy performance in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Brazil in a friendly match in Singapore.

Five-time world champions Brazil had to dig deep into their arsenal before securing the equalizer as the Super Eagles had them on the back foot following Joseph Ayodele-Aribo’s 35th minute goal.

“This result is a good confidence booster for the team. We now have to prepare for the more competitive games next month.

“I am happy we stayed organised even when the Brazilians mounted a lot of pressure on us in the second half. The only negative thing is the injury to (Francis) Uzoho,” the Franco-German said minutes after the final whistle at the Singapore National Stadium in Kallang.

Aribo’s goal, his second in as many matches in the colours of the Super Eagles, was an eye-catching finish as he received a pass from Moses Simon and then waltzed his way through a number of outstretched Brazilian legs to shoot past goalkeeper Ederson.

Brazil drew level three minutes after the restart but the three-time African champions held firm in the face of onslaught after onslaught, and could have won in the end had Thiago Silva not upended a marauding Aribo with the South Americans exposed.

Goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, who horribly twisted his knee as he went for the ball from a corner kick, will be out for a minimum of six months, according to team doctor Ibrahim Gyaran.

Nigeria host Benin Republic on November 14 in the opening day of the 2021 AFCON qualifying campaign, before flying to Lesotho for a Day Two match on November 19.

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Eagles’ blow, Uzoho out for six months

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The injury that Nigeria’s first choice goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho, had in Sunday’s friendly match with Brazil has ruled him out for six months.
The Nigerian goalkeeper in an attempt to save a cross in the 60th minute landed awkwardly and thus got his ligament torn.
He was subsequently replaced by Germany-based Fortuna Düsseldorf goakeeper, Maduka Okoye who thus made his debut for Nigeria.
Of late, since the international retirement of Vincent Enyeama and the illness of his replacement, Carl Ikeme who also had to retire, Super Eagles have had to contend with goalkeeping headaches.
Ikechukwu who stepped in in a World Cup qualifying match with Cameroon two years ago turned to be a mere flash.
Daniel Akpeyi has not also fared better as a substitute to either Enyeama or Ikeme.
Theophilus Afelokhai who sidelined Ezenwa in Enyimba and subsequently forced his exit from the club has also not proven a major contender for Nigeria’s number one spot.
The four times he had to pick the ball from his net in the African Nations’ championship duel with Togo last month put serious doubts on his credentials in the national team.

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Aribo has great Eagles’ future, says Aghahowa

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Aribo has great Eagles’ future, says Aghahowa

Former Nigeria international, Julius Aghahowa, has made glowing remarks about Glasgow Rangers midfielder, Joe Aribo, saying he is a promising player that needs all the support and backing to excel for the Super Eagles.

Aribo scored a fantastic goal in the first half of the friendly against Brazil on Sunday and Aghahowa believes the former Charlton Athletic central midfielder has a bright future with the Super Eagles only if he gets the required support to excel and shine.

“Aribo did very well against Brazil from his central midfield position. I believe he has what it takes to wear the number 10 jersey and do well. He scored a brilliant goal which was his second in as many games for Nigeria. He has the heart to go very far representing Nigeria,” Aghahowa said.

Aghahowa also gave kudos to the likes of Samuel Chukwueze, Victor Osimhen and Alex Iwobi who didn’t disappoint in the game, pointing out that the future is very bright for Nigeria with this array of wonderful talents.

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Tokyo 2020: Team Nigeria kick-starts preparation today

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Tokyo 2020: Team Nigeria kick-starts preparation today

…to camp for five months across various centres

 

  • Minister meets with federation bosses

 

Team Nigeria will kick-starts their preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games today according to the Minister of Youths and Sports, Sunday Dare.

The Minister, who was in Lagos on another working visit where he visited the training of a private track and field club, the Making of Champions, said his ministry was ready administrative wise to begin preparations.

“The journey from the administrative aspects starts on Tuesday (today), when we bring all the key stakeholders together,” he said.

“The preparation for the Olympics actually starts immediately after the completion of one, so beyond what we see in Morocco and Doha, these athletes have been going for different tournaments and competitions.

“Individually, they have been training so hard, that’s the preparation, they only come to championships as a group to compete and from what we saw in Morocco, which is a benchmark, same thing as what happened in Doha.

“It took us seven years to get another medal at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, but there were lessons learnt from the competition. This time around, we are not starting too late and not so early, we have about nine months to go, and we will be ready.”

The minister also revealed that there would be at least five months of camping as the country looks forward to winning medals.

Dare said he was optimistic of the athletes competing for gold, silver and bronze medals in various sports at the Olympics.

He added: “We are going to start that process;we are going to have camping in three or four different locations depending on the sports.

“We are going to be focusing on sports that we can really compete and then we go there and do well.

“Basically, if we have the funds, we are going to have six months of camping, in the past we usually have three months, but this time around we are looking at five.”

Meanwhile, the minister said he would be meeting with all the federation presidents so as to be on the same page ahead of the Tokyo 2020 preparations.

“I have a meeting with the NOC (National Olympic Committee) and all the federation presidents and the secretaries in Abuja on Tuesday so that we all will be on the same page.

“We are going to be professional about this, so Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, Nigeria will not be going there to try, but we are going there to compete for the gold, bronze and silver.”

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Stage friendlies with African teams, Lawal tells NFF

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Stage friendlies with African teams, Lawal tells NFF

Ex-Super Eagles midfielder Dimeji Lawal has advised the Nigerian Football Federation to organise friendly matches with African teams for the Super Eagles.

The former international however prefers the team to play more African opposition than teams from other continents.

He was speaking after Nigeria was forced to a 1-1 draw by Brazil in an interesting friendly encounter decided in Singapore on Sunday.

Lawal , 48 is of the opinion that the Eagles will benefit from playing with neighbouring countries as they still have a lot to learn from confronting such opposition.

“Now that we have learnt something from Brazil, we should go to another continent and see what their football is like and maybe we should come back to Africa and see what we can benefit from playing against our counterparts,” he told New Telegraph.

“it’s not about the names alone sometimes you play against a team that you think is low in category but they give you things to learn. For people to think that after playing against Brazil they should fix a friendly match with another big team like Germany is wrong  , football  doesn’t work that way; a team should learn from every cadre.”

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GOtv Boxing Night Mini debuts

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GOtv Boxing Night Mini debuts

mini version of the hugely successful GOtv Boxing Night, tagged GOtv Boxing Night Mini, is set to start. The inaugural edition will hold on November 16 at the Rowe Park, Yaba, Lagos. This was announced yesterday by the organisers, Flykite Productions, at a media sit-in in Lagos.

Jenkins Alumona, CEO Flykite, explained that GOtv Boxing Night Mini was conceived to provide more frequent opportunities for boxers as a means of ensuring that they get requisite number of fights to make them eligible for sub-regional, continental and international title bouts.

“Our boxers have, despite the best efforts of GOtv Boxing Night, inadequate opportunities to fight and build their fight records, which they need to become eligible for international titles. GOtv Boxing Night Mini, which will be staged with more frequency than the main event, will address this challenge,” he said.

Alumona also explained that the 20th edition of GOtv Boxing Night, which was planned to hold last Saturday, has been fused into the mega edition of the event slated for December. The development, he said, was imposed by the injury suffered in training by Oto “Joe Boy” Joseph, African Boxing Union (ABU) lightweight champion, who was scheduled to defend his title against Rilwan “Real One” Oladosu, West African Boxing Union  champion in the much-anticipated headline bout.

He added that hopes that the injury would heal on time proved misplaced, as sports medicine experts advised that the injury-a shoulder breach-be allowed a longer recuperation period to avoid aggravation.

Some of the other boxers slated to fight at GOtv Boxing Night 20 will, however, feature at GOtv Boxing Night Mini. These include Rilwan “Baby Face” Babatunde, Kabiru “KB Godson” Towolawi and Cynthia “Baby Girl” Ogunsemilore. Also lined up to be in action is Waheed “Skoro” Usman, former ABU featherweight champion.

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Rohr predicts good future for Eagles

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Nigeria national team coach Gernot Rohr believes the Super Eagles have ‘good future’ after they played out a 1-1 draw against Brazil in Sunday’s international friendly in Singapore.

The 66-year-old German tactician paraded a young team against the five-time world champions, following a spate of withdrawals by some of his experienced players, including captain Ahmed Musa.

The team, however, gave a good account of themselves with Joe Aribo – making his second appearance for the Super Eagles – scoring the opening goal in the 35th minute before Casemiro’s second-half effort saved the South American champions from defeat.

Rohr is impressed with the performance of his side but admitted the three-time African champions still have to improve.

“It was tough for us as the second game because Brazil would not have wanted to leave Singapore without winning, and it feels very good to know that we can play so well against some of the biggest names in football,” Rohr said in a post-match press conference.

“We didn’t have our best team here, but our wingers gave Brazil a lot of problems on the counter-attack and I am proud of our players. They can have a good future.

“We can still improve in defending set-pieces. We have height, with players as tall as two metres, but we have to be better in the air.

“It is not enough just to have good size, they need to jump well with good timing.”

Rohr believes African football is improving after both Nigeria and Senegal avoided defeat against the world number three.

“These results are good for African football when Senegal and Nigeria did not lose to Brazil, one of the strongest teams in the world,” he added.

 

 

 

Nigeria will hope to secure good results when they take on Benin Republic and Lesotho in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying games in November.

 

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Barca target Osimhen as Suarez’s replacement

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Barca target Osimhen as Suarez’s replacement

Super Eagles striker Victor Osimhen’s rising profile has caught the attention of European giants Barcelona who have viewed him as a long term replacement for their talismanic forward Luis Suarez.

 According to a report by Spanish sports newspaper AS which was monitored by our correspondent, Osimhem top the list of youngsters that have been scouted as ideal replacements for the Uruguayan striker.

Osimhen has set Europe on fire after netting seven league goals for Lille in his debut season in the French Championat. The former Wolfsburg forward also scored his first UEFA Champions League goal against Chelsea last month.

The striker has also solidified his place in the Nigerian team after great showing against Ukrainse and Brazil.

Other players on the shopping list of Barcelona are Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan), Donyell Malen (PSV) and Rafael Leao (AC Milan).

Lille sports director Campos has already hinted that Osimhen is poised for “a big move” soon.

Osimhen has a contract with Lille till 2024.

He has previously been linked with a transfer to AC Milan before he finally joined Lille from Belgian club Sporting Charleroi.

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