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US Open: Osaka, Nadal headline Day Eight

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US Open: Osaka, Nadal headline Day Eight

Defending champion Naomi Osaka will seek a spot in the U.S. Open quarter-finals when she returns to the court on Monday while second seed Rafa Nadal faces former winner Marin Cilic in last 16 action.

Osaka, who brought 15-year-old American Coco Gauff’s New York run to an end in the third round, will kick off the day session inside Arthur Ashe Stadium when she faces Swiss 13th seed Belinda Bencic.

The Japanese 21-year-old has had an up-and-down year since her Australian Open win and she has her hands full against a rested Bencic, who enjoyed a walkover into the last 16.

Bencic will bring plenty of confidence given she beat Osaka in their two meetings this year to improve to 2-1 in their head-to-head record.

“I mean, for me playing her is always super challenging,” said Osaka, who beat Bencic in 2013 but lost to her this year at Indian Wells and Madrid.

“I just expect a fight. She doesn’t really ever give up. She kind of fights for every point.”

Nadal, who retired injured from last year’s New York semi-final with knee trouble, kicks off the evening session inside Ashe and will be rested and raring to go against the 2014 champion Cilic after smooth passage to the last 16.

The 18-times Grand Slam champion has not dropped a set and had a walkover in the second round when Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis withdrew with injury.

But the Spaniard knows he faces a tough test against the big-serving Croat.

“I need to be focused with my serve, as always. I need to be ready to accept the challenge that brings the competition in days like these ones,” said Nadal. “And I hope to be ready to play my highest level, because that’s what I am going to need.”

In other action, German sixth seed Alexander Zverev will face Argentine Diego Schwartzman while Russian Andrey Rublev, who upended Nick Kyrgios in the third round, meets Italian Matteo Berrettini.

Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu will close out proceedings under the Arthur Ashe lights when she battles American qualifier Taylor Townsend, who has found success with a throwback game of aggressive net play, reports Reuters.

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Musa, Etebo, Aina to return for Benin

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Musa, Etebo, Aina to return for Benin

Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa, Oghenekharo Etebo and Ola Aina will return for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against the Squirrels of Benin in November. Musa, Etebo, and Aina missed out from Nigeria’s 1-1 draw against the five-time World Cup champions, the Samba Boys of Brazil, in an international friendly game at the weekend, due to various injuries. The team coach Gernot Rohr who seems to be worried about the injuries to some of his key players, told Brila Fm that he hoped they would be fit for the big task ahead of the team.

“Now what will happen with all these injured players back? “If Musa can come back, if Aina can come back and if Etebo too can come back, so we will see what can happen with the top players for these impactful games,” Rohr added. The three-time AFCON champions will host Benin on November 11 before facing Lesotho on November 19.

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Lagos Open Tennis: Gallant Oyinlomo Qaudre loses to Ukrainian star

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Lagos Open Tennis: Gallant Oyinlomo Qaudre loses to Ukrainian star

The only Nigerian standing in the ongoing 2nd leg Lagos Open Tennis, Barakat Oyinlomo Quadre was unable to survive the superior power of her Ukrainian opponent, Strakhova Valeriya in their quarter final match decided Friday afternoon at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan. Morroco-based Quadre, who had on Thursday broken a record as the only Nigerian woman player to have qualified to the quarter final level of the ITF World Tour in Lagos, played a determined game against the Ukrainian. This earned her a 7-5 win in the first set; an early break that she failed to sustain and consolidate on. Strakhova, however, forcefully came back to take the game out of Quadre as she won the remaining two set, 6-3, 6-1. The pulsating match lasted 2 hours 35 minutes. In other quarter final results in the women’s singles, top seed Mendez Seone from Austria lost 6-4, 0-6, 0-6 to 6th seed Bhatia Riya. The match lasted 1hour 45mins. Tournament fifth seed, Bhosale Rutuja from India, upset Samir Sandra from Egypt, who is the tournament’s number 3 seed in straight set of 6-2, 6-0 to book a semi final ticket. Brazilian Luara Pigozzi who was runner up in the final last week failed to make it to the semi final as she was defeated by Nastja Kolar from Slovenia in 2-6, 6-5, 5-7 game. In the men’s singles, Zimbabwe’s Takanyi Garanganga beat Frenchman Gianni Mina 6-0, 6-4. Calvin Hemery from France defeated Benjamin Lock in straight set of 6-3, 6-0. Tunisian Aziz Quakaa defeated brother Dougaz 5-7, 6-4, 4-2. Semi final matches are scheduled for Saturday with the grand finale coming up on Sunday. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu is expected to declare the competition close.

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Enyeama tips Osimhen for Lille success

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Enyeama tips Osimhen for Lille success

Former Nigeria and Lille OSC goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama has thrown his weight behind new kid sensation Victor Osimhen to excel at the club. Enyeama, who spent seven seasons with Les Dogues, made 118 appearances for the club.

On Thursday, Osimhen was named the Ligue Un player of the month for September, becoming only the 10th player to win the award. Meanwhile, Enyeama who is the second Lille player to win back to back Player of the Month awards – the other being Eden Hazard – told www.brila.net what the 20-year-old forward must do to reach his full potential.

“He is doing well, he only needs to keep his head down,” Enyeama stated. So far this season, Osimhen has now scored seven goals in nine league appearances for the club.

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Ajayi’s confidence boosted after Brazil draw

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Ajayi’s confidence boosted after Brazil draw

West Bromwich Albion defender Semi Ajayi admitted his confidence has received a boost after helping Nigeria secure a 1-1 draw against Brazil last Sunday. The 25-year-old was handed a starting role in the encounter, partnering William Troost-Ekong at the heart of the Super Eagles’ defence.

The former Rotherham United defender shone in the game, keeping the starstudded attack of the South Americans at bay to help the West Africans secure a famous draw against the fivetime world champions. Ajayi, who returned to West Brom on Tuesday after the international break, is looking to carry on with the impressive showing for the Baggies.

“I’m feeling really good. The [Brazil] game went really well. I’ve given myself a lot of confidence coming up against the big stars. Hopefully, I can carry that form into our league game during the weekend,” Ajayi told the club website. “You want to play against the best players and test yourself.

If you can come out of that with a good performance and a good result then that is even better so the trip went really well. “I don’t really focus on their names, it is more about what they do on the pitch. I felt like myself and my teammates dealt with their threats really well and it is something we can take a lot of pride from.”

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Sunday Dare: Dangote, Baba Ijebu ready to drive sports development

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Sunday Dare: Dangote, Baba Ijebu ready to drive sports development

Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare, in an interview with CHARLES OGUNDIYA has said the move by the country to have a good outing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games started on Tuesday, October 15, with the meeting with the Nigeria Olympic Committee, federation presidents and other stakeholders…

 

 

Since coming to office as the sports minister, you have been moving around the country, what have you been able to achieve?

I have been able to go around, in terms of not just familiarization but also trying to get identify some of the key areas I would be pursuing. When you talk about sports development, you talk about infrastructural rationalization without which you cannot talk about development. I am also interested in the equipment that we have. I have been able to get the sense of what obtained in the country. I am not happy that over the years we have not had a maintenance culture, in terms of maintenance and management of these facilities, which has deprived our athletes of the necessary structure they need to train and we just have to pay attention to restoring some of these major facilities. I am not talking about the football pitches and the terraces alone, I have also been to the indoor sports hall, I have seen a couple of areas like the weightlifting gym, the table tennis and so on. After what happened in Morocco, we could see that we are very strong in wrestling, table tennis, badminton and others like that so we need to bring back some of these sporting facilities and government is committed to doing that by working with the private sector.

What prospects do you foresee in terms of sports development in  Nigeria?

Actually the future of sports development in this country rests on three major sectors, one is  developing a business model around sports in this country, that is bringing private money and funding the public/private ownership. The second leg is creating some kind of sports funds that will take care of welfare, the grants, the stipends for the elite athletes and for the local athletes. The third leg has to do with the facilities and infrastructure; we must bring what we have back to standard. For instance this country should have nothing less than a dozen world standard football pitches, but right now we can only speak of about two but I can tell you confidently from the  engagement I have had – I just finished the second private meeting with Alhaji Aliko Dangote and I can tell you clearly that  there is massive progress.  Recently, I had a one hour meeting with Chief Adebutu Kessington (Baba Ijebu), solid promises, we are set on a road that is irreversible but will bring the changes we need; they will be incremental.

These problems already piled up from the last 20 years, but I can tell you that we are taking those steps to correct them and Nigerians will begin to see these facilities come back. These are the three major areas that will bring back the sport development we desire in this country.

You came to Lagos to witness the training of a private athletics club, the Making of Champions, what’s the fate of private initiatives like that?

I had to cancel my flight to really come and see the athletes and see those behind MoC and the fact that I was there was a validation that MoC is blazing a trail that I want to see happening in this country. If we have about 12 MoCs with the same kind of model across the country, then we can be sure that our talents scattered all over the country will be well trained and this should be a major partnership between the government and the private sector. At the MoC, we are looking at three or four athletes that are Olympic Games athletes and they are very young. Like I said the ministry will give them full support; we are going to partner with them. Not only that, we are going to look at other outfits with the same model across the country, bring them together because we are trying to also look at a model in which we coordinate and give them support. That’s another public/private partnership.

You watched the Super Eagles game against Brazil recently.  With the performance, would that serve as benchmark to what to expect against Benin and Lesotho when the 2021 AFCON qualifiers begin in November?

I will start from the Super Eagles, what we have are a bunch of talented young players and we have an opportunity of breeding a new set of superstars. They have been playing week-in-week-out for their professional clubs across the world, we need to keep them together, and also nurture them together. What we saw on display was excellent display of skills, these are players with abundant talents, I have no doubt about them and we have already seen the areas they need to improve which I am sure the coach, Gernot Rohr, would have looked into, but by and large we have seen that they are a dream team. I have no doubt that when we meet Benin, the boys will get the victory.

At the 2019 African Games in Morocco, you promised to set up an endowment fund to cater for athletes, how far have you gone?

I did say that and conversations are going on at the moment. We need to have private engagements, we need to have corporate engagement and individuals, this is progressing as we envisaged. Remember that Chief Iwuanyanwu was the chairman of the National Sports Endowment Funds, we want to take off from that place. There is a board and we are going to have a new chairman, however, we want to make it independent and bring in more people with financial clout that could put money into the fund. Eventually, that fund is supposed to take care of the athletes by way of sustenance, their health insurance, and also provide grants for the elite athletes and also would help directly and indirectly to upgrade the facilities and equipment that we have across the country. So that fund is coming back, repackaged with a new drive and vision. We have some people within the country that have never been involved directly in sports, we are pulling them to come in to do this for our sports development.

A year to the Olympics, from what you have seen so far, are we sure of medals in Tokyo?

I am an optimist, and it is too early to call in the scores of this country. The preparations for the Olympics actually start 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 hard, that’s the preparation, they only come to championships as a group to compete and from what we saw in Morocco 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 too early too, we have about nine months to go, and we are all ready. Recently I requested all the federation presidents to submit their reports, update on camping, training and the athletes they are looking a. Based on the experience we had in the past, we are going to focus on the area we have competitive advantage, where we have athletes on the world stage already. We are not looking at 20 sports but seven or eight. I had a meeting with the NOC and all the federation presidents and the secretary in Abuja on Tuesday so that we all could 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.

How early are we going to see the camping and also the funding for the Games?

Basically if we have the funds, we are going to do maybe six months of camping. In the past we usually had three months, but this time around we are looking at five months, and that journey from the administrative aspects started last week Tuesday, when we brought all the key stakeholders and the drivers –  that is the federations – we started that process and we are going to have camping in three or four different locations depending on which sports. We are going to be focusing on sports that we can really compete and then we go there and compete.

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Football legends sign up for UEFA master’s programme

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Football legends sign up for UEFA master’s programme

Kaká, Didier Drogba and Andrey Arshavin are among the stellar names who have already enrolled for UEFA’s Executive Master for International Players (MIP) programme.

The course will equip former international players with the professional skills needed to transition into a second career.

They have played for some of the world’s biggest clubs and won just about all there is to win in football. However, for the likes of Júlio César, René Adler, Florent Malouda and 27 other former internationals, it is a new UEFA educational course that will help determine their success in a future career away from the pitch.

All have enrolled for UEFA’s Executive Master for International Players (MIP). The aim of this 20-month programme is to equip top international players with the tools required to transfer their playing strengths into effective management skills that will also benefit football.

Ex-Chelsea forward Didier Drogba retired from football almost a year ago. After speaking to friends – and UEFA MIP graduate – Geremi Njitap, he believes the programme would be the perfect move for him.

“As a player I could feel the impact that we have on fans and people around the game, but then I stopped playing in November [2018],” the former Ivory Coast captain said.

“I had been thinking, ‘How can I keep having the same impact without playing, without using my physique, my legs and my heart?’ The best way was to use my brain and think about how to stay in football and go into administration. That is why I am here – to get all the tools and skills needed to improve not only as a person but as an ambitious man who wants to contribute to the development of football.”

The MIP course comprises seven week-long sessions staged in major global cities. To help provide a comprehensive overview, each session examines a different aspect of the administration and governance of a football organisation. In addition, players not already working within a sports body must complete a three-month work placement to ensure they have hands-on, day-to-day experience.

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CAF Confederation Cup: I’m under pressure to qualify for group stages –Abdallah

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CAF Confederation Cup: I’m under pressure to qualify for group stages –Abdallah

Enyimba FC head coach, Ibrahim Abdallah, has disclosed that he is under pressure to qualify the club to the group stages of the CAF Confederation Cup.

The Nigeria Professional Football League champions dropped to the second tier of the CAF competitions after they were eliminated from the Champions League by Al Hilal of Sudan in the final qualifying round.

Enyimba will have to beat TS Galaxy from South Africa to qualify to the group stages of the Confederation Cup, a competition they played to the semifinal stages two years ago.

Speaking after his side played a 1-1 draw against MFM in Lagos on Wednesday, Abdallah said he is looking forward to securing qualification to the group stages before thinking of the next game.

“I think the main pressure is going to be how to make it to the group stages and from there making it out of the group and then the pressure would continue again for the quarterfinal, semifinal,” he said.

“We want to do much better than we did last time we played in the competition (playing in the semifinal). The most important thing now is that we want to qualify for the group stages.

“So if I happen to pass that, then probably I will be in the final, but it’s not something we have to start talking about now, the most important thing is the pressure to qualify, so that’s where we put our mind.”

Meanwhile, the coach has expressed happiness with the fast approaching league commencement date.

It would be recalled that the League Management Company announced November 3 as the new resumption date for the 2019/2020 league season.

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Tottenham, Watford clash, others live on GOtv

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Tottenham, Watford clash, others live on GOtv

series of exciting Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A matches will be available on GOtv this weekend.

For as low as N2,600, customers on lower GOtv packages – Plus, Value and Lite – can step up to GOtv Max to enjoy the select premium matches from the top football leagues which will be broadcast live on SuperSport.

The Premier League returns on Saturday, 19 October after a two-week international break. The match between Tottenham Hotspur and Watford at the White Heart Lane will air live on SuperSport Select 2 at 3pm. Spurs are currently besieged by crisis after losing two of their last five Premier League matches, as well being defeated in their recent League Cup and UEFA Champions League fixture. The team led by Maurico Pochettino is currently ninth on the table. Watford, on the other hand, are languishing at the bottom of the table, despite changing their managers. The return of Enrique Sánchez Flores does not seem to have improved the fortune of the Honets

The pick of the LaLiga games is the encounter between Eibar and defending champions, Barcelona. The game, which kicks off at 12pm on Saturday will be live on SuperSport Select 4. Eibar, who have the third best defense in the LaLiga, will aim to lengthen their unbeaten run from four to five games when they host Ernesto Valverde’s men at the Estadio Municipal de Ipurua. The Catalans, who started their title defense in sloppy form, will be aiming for a win to enable them topple leaders, Real Madrid, who are only two points better.

Also on Saturday, Atletico Madrid will host Valencia in their ninth game of the season at the Wanda Metropolitano in the Spanish capital.  The match will air live at 3pm on SuperSport Select 4.

The day’s schedule will be rounded off with the broadcast of the match between Mallorca and Real Madrid on SuperSport Select 4 at 8pm. Real have shaken off their indifferent early season form and currently top the table in Spain.

In the Serie A, defending champions, Juventus, will seek to widen their advantage over Inter Milan when they host Bologna at Juventus Stadium in Turin. The match will be live on SuperSport Select 5 at 7:45pm. In their last match, the defending Serie A champions defeated their major rivals Inter Milan 2-1 away from home to seize the leadership of the league from Antonio Conte’s team.

On Monday, 21 October, the Premier League action returns as Arsenal travel to Bramall Lane to battle newly promoted Sheffield United. Arsenal will seek to continue their climb up the table. The currently occupy the third place on 15 points, just one behind incumbent Premier League champions, Manchester City.  The match will be aired live on SuperSport Select 2 at 8pm.

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Edo State Sports Commission Law: Obaseki, a man of vision –Dudu-Orumen

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Edo State Sports Commission Law: Obaseki, a man of vision –Dudu-Orumen

Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has been described as a man of vision and a passionate supporter of sports in the state.

Barrister Godwin Dudu-Orumen, Chairman of Edo State Sports Commission(ESSC), made the declaration on the heels of the signing of the commission bill into law on Tuesday by the governor.

The ESSC boss said Governor Obaseki’s decision to scrap the Sports Council and replace it with the sports commission, reflected his understanding of the fundamentals of modern sports administration and the need to align Edo State with global best practices in sports. He stated that by his action in creating the sports commission and working assiduously to ensure that it became a legal entity, Governor Obaseki had cemented for himself, a place of honour in the annals of sports not only in Edo State but in Nigeria as a whole.

“It takes man who understands modern trends in sports administration to take the bold step of creating a sports commission. Governor Obaseki like all men of vision, understands that the sports council is no longer adequate to fulfill the needs of a rapidly expanding and increasingly complex sports industry. He has by creating  the Edo State Sports Commission and signing it into law, ensured that sports in Edo State will not only thrive but will become a reference point nationally and internationally. We thank the governor for this laudable step and assure him that at the Edo State Sports Commission, we will work tirelessly to deliver on our mandate,” Dudu-Orumen said.

He was also appreciative of the effort and commitment of members of the Edo State House of Assembly led by Speaker Frank Okiye in passing the bill into law in good time.

“I have nothing but respect and admiration for Speaker Okiye and his colleagues in the Edo State House of Assembly for running with the vision of the governor and for making valuable inputs in the bill. I thank them for making the commission become a reality,” Dudu-Orumen stated.

The ESSC chairman also thanked the media for its support and commitment in seeing the commission become a legal entity.

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Nig vs Togo: Pick right players, Oparaku tells Amapakabo

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Nig vs Togo: Pick right players, Oparaku tells Amapakabo

 

Ex-international, Mobi Oparaku, has advised the coach of Home-based Super Eagles, Imama Amapakabo, to start players who are technically and tactically ready as they attempt to snatch the ticket to the 2020 African Nations Championship from the Sparrow Hawks of Togo today.

The Nigerian side fell to a scandalous 4-1 defeat to Togo in the first leg in Lome last month and they are now looking forward to overturning that deficit in the second leg which comes up today at the Agege Stadium, Lagos.

Oparaku said the team could achieve their ambition if only the coach uses the right players.

“Amakapabor has to be very careful in picking his players and giving instructions in a tactical and technical manner to the team because they may go there and mess up and they will start exhibiting what they want, neglecting what the coach has instructed,” he warned in an interview with Saturday Telegraph.

Oparaku challenged the players to exhibit strong tactical and technical discipline by playing to the coach’s instructions.

“The problem of today’s players especially those in the national team is that when they are called up to play for the team they start to feel like they are on top of the world. I want the players to listen to Amakapabo; it is going to be a tough game but they can overturn the result and qualify for CHAN,” he said.         

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