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AFCON qualifiers: Rohr under pressure to recall Akpeyi

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AFCON qualifiers: Rohr under pressure to recall Akpeyi

Embattled Super Eagles goalkeeper, Daniel Akpeyi, may stage a return to the team for their next African Cup of Nations qualifying matches with Benin Republic and Lesotho next month  if Manager, Gernot Rohr, succumbed to pressure to give the goalie another chance.

Akpeyi was the team’s first choice at the 2019 AFCON but he had a seemingly poor showing at the competition which made the coach to drop him and reinstate Francis Uzoho as number one.

Uzoho appeared to had permanently cemented his place with impressive performance in those friendly matches until he sustained an injury in the game against Brazil which has ruled him out of action for six months.

Although youngster Maduka Okoye who replaced Uzoho after the injury showed some promises, it doesn’t look like the challenges in the goalkeeping department of the team is over.

Okoye plays in the fourth division in Germany and has had a terrible showing for Dossedourf after conceding whopping 17 goals in just seven matches and Rohr is reportedly considering not risking the youngster in competitive games.

Second choice Ikechukwu Ezenwa has not seen action for close to four months because the local league has since been on recess and he could be match rusty for games of that magnitude.

However, the Nigeria Football Federation has encouraged Rohr to recall Akpeyi, who has been doing well for his South African side Kaiser Chiefs where he has won two man-of-the-match awards in just one month.

Akpeyi was not invited for the team’s last two friendly with Ukraine and Brazil as our correspondent learnt that the development was more than footballing reasons.

A source close to the team told our correspondent that,” The coach is reluctant to recall Akpeyi not only because of his performance in Egypt but he was not happy about the way the goalkeeper handled his criticism of him in the dressing room after the semifinal loss to Algeria.

“The coach is now constrained to hand the goalie a recall after he was prevailed upon by egg-heads in the NFF.”

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EPL: Everton beat Chelsea in Ferguson’s first game in charge

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EPL: Everton beat Chelsea in Ferguson’s first game in charge

Everton caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson made an instant impact on the pitch and a spectacular one off it as he started his reign with a vital victory over Chelsea at Goodison Park.

Ferguson is in interim control after Marco Silva was sacked following Wednesday’s Merseyside derby thrashing at Liverpool that had left the Toffees in the relegation zone.

And Everton banished their recent struggles to run out fully deserved winners on a thunderous occasion illuminated by the former striker’s wild celebrations, reports the BBC.

The Scot raced down the touchline when Richarlison headed Everton in front from Djibril Sidibe’s cross after only five minutes, then swung a ball boy around in the air when Dominic Calvert-Lewin took advantage of slipshod Chelsea defending to increase their lead four minutes after half-time.

Chelsea frayed some nerves in the home crowd when Mateo Kovacic pulled one back from long range – but Ferguson was off down the touchline again when more awful defending from Frank Lampard’s side allowed Calvert-Lewin to scramble his second through goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga’s legs with six minutes left.

Ferguson and his players took the acclaim at the final whistle as the clouds over Goodison Park lifted.

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EPL: Mourinho sleeps at training ground to prepare for Burnley

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EPL: Mourinho sleeps at training ground to prepare for Burnley

Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho says he slept at the club’s training ground to prepare for Saturday’s match against Burnley.

The Portuguese stayed at Hotspur Way in Enfield after his side were beaten 2-1 by Manchester United on his return to his former club.

Mourinho felt that the dressing room was a “sad” place following the loss.

“After a defeat you cannot be sad. You have to be more than that. You have to be raging, angry, not sad,” he said.

Mourinho reportedly slept at the training ground before he was appointed manager during his negotiations with Spurs Chairman Daniel Levy, reports the BBC.

The defeat at Old Trafford was Tottenham’s first under Mourinho.

His side host 12th-placed Burnley at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this weekend.

“I didn’t go home, so the next morning at eight o’clock I was here doing what? Burnley,” Mourinho said.

“Analysing Burnley, trying to organise the training session, trying to organise the meeting, choosing the clips to show them the most clear possible way Burnley works.

“That’s the way you have to do it in football. Don’t accept in a passive way.”

Tottenham are eighth in the Premier League with five wins, five losses and five draws this season.

“It’s obvious we have problems but we have players with quality, a great human dressing room,” Mourinho added.

“I like the guys very much but we need to change that feeling of feeling sorry about our mistakes and feeling sad with our bad results.”

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Serie A: Inter miss chance to move four points clear

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Serie A: Inter miss chance to move four points clear

Serie A leaders Inter Milan missed the chance to move four points clear at the summit after being held to a goalless draw by Roma at the San Siro.

The build-up to the fixture had been overshadowed by Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport’s ‘Black Friday’ headline, which was accompanied by images of Roma defender Chris Smalling and Inter striker Romelu Lukaku.

Lukaku condemned the headline as “one of the dumbest” he has ever seen while Smalling said it was “wrong and insensitive”.

Antonio Conte’s Inter were denied a seventh-minute opener after Lukaku drew a good save from Antonio Mirante, reports the BBC.

Inter’s Marcelo Brozovic then blazed an attempt over following Mirante’s scuffed clearance shortly before half-time, while Mirante – in for Roma’s injured Pau Lopez – frustrated Inter further after the interval.

England manager Gareth Southgate was in attendance, alongside assistant Steve Holland, as Roma’s Manchester United loanee Smalling stuck tight to former Old Trafford team-mate Lukaku throughout in what was an assured display.

The result, which ends Inter’s five-match winning run, means reigning champions Juventus can move top with victory over third-placed Lazio on Saturday (19:45 GMT).

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Tokyo Olympics prospects need care, not crisis

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Tokyo Olympics prospects need care, not crisis

The Olympic Games with a circle of four years remain the biggest sporting event in the world. It is also important to emphasise that the final of the athletics 100m is almost always the climax of every Olympic Games. Over the years, the competition has evolved in many ways. For example, football for men and women were added but it has not removed the shine for the ‘major’ attraction of the games, which is athletics.

 

That was why Micheal Johnson, Carl Lewis, Maurice Greene and just recently Usain Bolt made their names as Olympic legends and not much is heard about the consistent and amazing athletes in other sports like wrestling, weightlifting, taekwondo, tennis, table tennis, etc.

 

American swimming sensation, Micheal Phelps, cannot be forgotten easily because of his amazing run in the swimming event while Cuban boxer Felix Savon cannot be forgotten as well but no doubt, athletics steals the show at the games. Nigeria’s all-time record at the games is not encouraging.

 

Despite the talents in various sports, Nigeria on many occasions goes to the games and returns with nothing. Nigeria has her strong and weak areas in athletics but, sadly, the country is yet to maximize the advantage of the strong areas, especially the sprints. Overall, Nigeria has won three gold, 10 silver and 12 gold medals.

 

The total medal haul of 25 is not a true reflection of the talents in the country.

 

Athletics alone has won two gold, five silver and six bronze medals. In one Olympic Games, many countries perform better than Nigeria’s overall haul at the games. Sad enough, after every competition, the authorities will come out to say the preparation for the next games will start immediately but as usual, the country ends up with ad-hoc arrangements for the games.

 

At the last games in Rio, Brazil, Nigeria won only a bronze medal courtesy of the U-23 men’s football team led by Samson Siasia. Four years earlier, at the London 2012 Games in England, Nigeria failed to win a medal.

 

As we gradually enter another Olympic year, 2020, the signs of preparations are not evident and this is rather sad.

 

The Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, spoke about his intention to assist some elite athletes prepare well and be at their best for the games but so far the preparation which was supposed to have started over two years ago is not evident. Some top athletes are good enough to make the podium based on their current form. Long jumper, Ese Brume, won a bronze medal only recently at the IAAF World Championship.

 

With a personal best of 7.05m, the three time African championship gold medallist is good for medals in Tokyo if well motivated with her preparation. Hurdler, Tobi Amusan, narrowly missed the bronze medal at the Worlds but with her 12.49 seconds personal best recorded earlier this year, the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist is also good enough for the podium. She is also a member of the 4x100m relay team.

 

Divine Oduduru, one of the most consistent sprinters this year, could explode at the Tokyo Games if well monitored. His PB of 9.86 secs recorded this year can earn him 100m medal if he is able to maintain or better it at the games.

 

In wrestling, Odunayo Adekuoroye and Blessing Oborodudu are solid enough to be in the medals bracket of their respective categories while ping ponger, Aruna Quadri, can also make the podium with huge encouragement and motivation from the ministry of sports. Adekuoroye is currently number 3 in the world in her category and she was consistent all through this year with continental and global laurels.

 

Quadri emerged the first African table tennis star to play in the quarter-finals of an Olympics Games at Rio 2016 and he is expected to do better in Tokyo due to his current form. It is however disturbing than rather than look at these promising athletes and think about ways of preparing them well for the Tokyo Games, the Athletic Federation of Nigeria is engulfed in crisis.

 

 

This is so sad and ill-timed. There is a problem within the board as there are two factions currently while the angle of the ministry is also there after the Gusau faction declared that the body would go autonomous at a Congress in Awka. There was another Congress in Abuja two days earlier. History has shown that a crisis like this draws the country back in terms of results.

 

The example of football is still fresh and the sad effects of crisis must not repeat itself in athletics.

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MANCHESTER DERBY: Jesus’ hurdle faces in-form Rashford

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MANCHESTER DERBY: Jesus’ hurdle faces in-form Rashford

…as City confront United at Etihad

 

 

Marcos Rashford produced arguably his best performance in Manchester United shirt when they beat Tottenham 2-1 midweek at Old Trafford and coach Ole Gunnar Solksjaer will be keen to see his talisman re-enact such showing when they attack neighbours Manchester City in one of the biggest derbies in world football today (Saturday).

 

Rashford scored two goals as the Red Devils welcomed their former Manager Jose Mourinho to Old Trafford to take his tally in all competitions to 12, one short of his best statistics since he started his senior career at the club in 2015/2016 season under loius Van Gaal.

 

The high profile summer departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez resulted in Rashford carrying the goalscoring burden on his shoulders after no replacements were signed.

 

 

This was a man who hadn’t scored more than 10 English Premier League goals in a campaign before.

 

When Anthony Martial was out injured and Rashford was deployed in the number 9 position, it was hard to see where Rashford’s next shot was going to come from let alone a goal But since scoring for England against Bulgaria and ending his open play goal drought, Rashford’s performances and goalscoring output have risen to a whole new level.

 

 

The significant change in form has come since he has been moved back into his favoured left-wing role. Coming in off that left channel is where he is at his devastating best, he can commit defenders with his trickery and pace. He can make darting runs in behind and he can cut inside and unleash his trademark venmous and dipping strikes, which caught Paulo Gazzaniga out for United’s opener.

 

 

His former manager had always believed that he would be better from the left and unfortunately for Mourinho he was proved right much to his teams detriment. Rashford has scored more Premier League goals than Harry Kane, Roberto Firmino, Raheem Sterling and Mo Salah this season. He is currently tied with Sergio Aguero and Sadio Mane, only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (10), Tammy Abraham (11) and Jamie Vardy (14) have scored more than United’s talisman.

However, the Englishman will have another youngster to fight for spotlight with and that is Gabriel Jesus. The Brazilain has struggled for form largely because he has seen his playing time reduced due to the imperial form of Aguero but he will lead the front line for the Citizens today because rthe Argentine striker is out injured.

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Joshua to get $85 million in Saudi rematch

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Joshua to get $85 million in Saudi rematch

British-Nigerian born pugilist, Anthony Joshua, will get a whopping $85 million as purse from the rematch against Mexican-American born Andy Ruiz on Saturday, December 7 in Saudi Arabia. His opponent and current WBA, WBO and IBF belts holder, Ruiz will pocket $13 million in the second showdown.

 

Ruiz has asked Joshua to be “mad in the ring” when both meet in 15,000 capacity Riyadh Stadium. Ruiz, who stunned Joshua in June at Madison Park in New York with a seventh minute knock-out, said he wants his opponent to show more aggression so that he can take chances on him.

 

“I want him to have that attitude because I will be calm and know exactly what we need to do. “I don’t know if I am his bogeyman, I think his style was just perfect for me and I think it will be the same. The 30-year-old said he knew Joshua would try to change tactics but he is not worried because he will perfect his work in the ring and come out victorious again.

 

“I think he will box around nicely for four or five rounds until I take the pressure to him, start hitting his body and mixing it up.

 

“I did say he was not good enough to avoid me for the full 12 rounds, on the backfoot, we have been working on this for a round three months now and I know, whatever he brings, we will be ready for it,” the chubby fighter said. Meanwhile, Ruiz has revealed that he bought cars, jewellery and mansion with the money he got from his victory over Joshua in June.

 

The Mexican scoped away a staggering £5 million after he deposed Joshua of his heavyweight champion, carting away his WBA, WBO and IBF belts.

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D’Tigress to camp in Belgrade

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D’Tigress to camp in Belgrade

Nigeria women’s basketball team, D’Tigress will camp in Belgrade, Serbia ahead of Japan 2020 Olympic Games final qualifiers. A member of the NBBF and who is also the President of FIBA Africa Zone 3, Sam Ahmedu, told our correspondent that Belgrade has been settled for as the venue for the preparations.

 

“The players will be flying directly to Belgrade and camp for a few days before the tournament starts,” Ahmedu confirmed from New York City on Wednesday. The back-to-back African champions D’Tigress are grouped in the Belgrade centre with world Champions, USA, host country Serbia and Mozambique who were hosts for the African qualifiers in Maputo last month.

 

The President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation Musa Kida has spoken on the need for early preparation for the team.

 

He made his view known after the world basketball governing body, FIBA, held the draw for the qualifying tournaments in Switzerland last month.

 

“We know that tournament of this magnitude costs money, time and proper planning. We are going to be working with the Ministry of Sports and the Honourable Minister, Sunday Dare, to ensure that we return to the Olympic Games.”

 

Olympic qualifiers are designed to be financed by the Ministry of Sports in Nigeria but in most cases the federations are usually forced to source funds for the qualifiers until the Federal Government’s budget is approved and released. “Nothing has changed much; the NBBF will have to sort itself out given what was experienced in Mozambique.

 

The NBBF president has provided funding for the Olympic drive so far and no refund has been made to him by the sports ministry.

 

“Yes, Olympic qualifiers are meant to be the responsibilities of the sports ministry but from experience you may not get to the destination when you depend largely on them,” Kida said From the draw made by FIBA on November 27, a total of 10 teams would join USA (World Champions) and host country Japan from the Olympic Qualifiers to be played between 6th and 9th of February, 2020 across four countries: Serbia, China, France and Belgium. Nigeria’s male team D’Tigers qualified for the Tokyo Olympics winning a direct ticket from the 2019 FIBA Men’s World Cup held in China.

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Sunday service with Pastor Taribo West

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Sunday service with Pastor Taribo West

Taribo West recorded a glorious footballing career at top clubs like Inter, AC Milan and a good run with the Super Eagles. His climax was the Atlanta Olympics gold won in 1996. After hanging his boots, he took to the pulpit and last week, our reporter CHARLES OGUNDIYA was part of his congregation.

 

 

S

aturday Telegraph on Sunday, December 1, was at the Shelter In The Storm Miracle Church of All Nations, headed by former Super Eagles defender turned pastor, Taribo West, to worship with the faithful.

Although our correspondent got to the church during the sermon which was delivered by the ex-international, it was time well worth it.

 

Preaching about foundational curses, Pastor West said there were so many things happening to people that had to do with where they came from.

 

The congregation was at least 30 people, mostly footballers. There were just five ladies among the people that came for the service on that day.

 

The church, situated inside Taribo’s compound around Opebi, in the Ikeja area of Lagos, was in between the main building and the boys’ quarters.

 

While quoting from the bible on several occasions, the former Inter Milan star said some of the problems facing people,  especially the younger generation who formed bulk of the congregation, had to do with stubbornness.

 

“When you are asked to do something and you are proving stubborn, then how do you go forward?” he said.

 

“There are foundational curses of family and we must pray to end them.

 

 

“Some of you come to church late and you think God doesn’t see you? You are in church and you are not doing anything for God in terms of service, then you are deceiving yourself.”

 

 

West, who preached in both proper English and pidgin,  said his life should be a lesson to all of the young aspiring footballers who throng to his church each Sunday.

 

 

He said: “When I moved to Lagos initially, there was nobody to help me with coaches rejecting me here and there.

 

 

“Despite that I kept on focusing on the goal and was using my God-given talent; the rest, as they say, is history.”

He continued to say words of prayers which the members responded to with resounding ‘amen’ on a regular basis.

 

 

It was obvious the pastor was familiar with most of the worshippers as he called each one of them by name during the long service that lasted till around 2.30pm.

 

 

Despite preaching for long, the pastor called for Prayer Line, which was alien to our correspondent, but very normal to the faithful.

 

All the chairs at the back of the church, which was an open space with tents used as shelter, were removed and put by the side as all the congregation lined up with about five or six in a row.

With the ushers arranging all the churchgoers, Pastor West continued to admonish the members on how to draw closer to God.

He revealed that all things needed for the new year must be prayed for so as to be at the top in 2020.

 

Immediately after the ‘Prayer Line’ was set, West came and rearranged some of the rows with some people taken from the back to the front as he began his ministration/deliverance.

While addressing a young boy, Pastor Taribo West said the separation of the boy’s parents contributed to where he was at the moment.

 

He added that the boy was isolated and there was need for him to come out as he tried to ‘deliver’ the boy from ‘bondage’.

 

What struck our correspondent again was West’s bizarre way of deliverance as he slapped the wrists, knees and chests of the members during the prayers before pushing them on the floor.

While he tried to minister to all the people present, West left out a boy who he claimed to be irresponsible.

 

He said: “Do you know what’s in my heart? If I lay my hand on you, then I can curse you. You don’t toy with a man of God if you really want to make it in life.

 

“My heart is everywhere from Europe to America to Asia and every part of the world where all my children are at the moment.

 

“I was a disciplined person during my active days as a player and if you want to become somebody, then you have to be disciplined.

 

“Don’t let me curse you because if I lay my hand on your head, it might be another thing, so you better change.”

 

Immediately after the ministration to all church members, West ordered everyone to return to their lines as he started another round of deliverance.

He also called out some people with different ailments whom he asked to rub his sweat on the places paining them.

 

With the ministration over, the seats were returned to their original positions as the pastor called for testimonies from the congregation.

 

 

He then  called two worshippers, who according to him must come out for testimony as he was a witness to what happened to them.

 

Our correspondent also noticed several banners and posters of previous crusades organised by the pastor with some of the testimonies related to his power.

 

Reacting to the testimonies, West said the posters and banners are very powerful as he usually prayed a lot on them before bringing them out for distribution and pasting on streets.

 

 

He related a story of a sister who the boyfriend was planning to use for money rituals. But after taking her picture that she posed for with the poster as background to the herbalist, the rituals backfired and the man got paralysed.

 

He also said another member entered a ‘one chance’ vehicle but was asked to come down after they saw the Taribo West sticker in her bag.

He admonished the members not to joke with the banners, posters or the stickers even handbills as they are very powerful.

 

 

“I always release a lot of anointing on the posters and they are no longer ordinary paper,” he added.

 

 

Immediately after the testimonies, it was time for tithes and offering with Pastor West himself leading the chorus as there was no choir member in place.

 

 

Apart from the sound system, there were no musical instruments like drums, keyboards or guitars as the worshippers used tambourine while dancing to the songs.

Pastor West encouraged the members to always pay their tithes so that things would not be tight for them.

 

There was an  announcement about the end of the year fasting of the church and also the coming crusade scheduled for December 31, 2019.

 

West said the fasting would be in two forms as the first few days would be normal fasting before turning into dry and marathon fasting.

 

The worshippers were also admonished to make it a date on Fridays for their prayer hour.

 

He added that they might be moving the crusade to Abuja next year as they are already calling him to come to the capital city.

 

With the service coming to a close, the pastor asked all the first timers to signify as they welcomed them to the church.

 

Apart from the form given to the first timers to fill in their details, they were also given raw food items like garri and rice while they were entertained with chips.

 

The footballers amidst the worshippers, who were over 50 percent of the congregation, were asked to wait behind.

Pastor Taribo promised to be bringing some top footballers to come around and talk to them especially with the winter break just around the corner.

 

 

A journalist’s diary

T

he instruction from my editor was clear as I was to worship at the Shelter In The Storm Miracle Church of All Nations, pastored by former Super Eagles defender, turned pastor, Taribo West.

 

Setting out from my house with no clear address apart from the fact that the church is located off Salvation Bus Stop, I decided to take a bike to Salvation where I asked for directions.

With the church situated inside an estate and bikes not allowed on the estate, so I had to make do with tricycle.

 

Getting to the front of the building that house the church, there was no sign of any service going on until I entered the compound.

Surprisingly there was no security at any direction to lead people to the church.

I however followed the voices that led me into the church.

 

First thing that came to my notice was the lack of crowd or a proper structure of a church despite watching their programme on YouTube.

Apart from tambourine and ‘Sekere’ there was not a single musical instrument in the church.

 

Also it was the pastor himself that was leading songs as there was no choir in place.

Another aspect of the programme that interested me was the Prayer Line and the deliverance section.

 

With just about 30 members, five of which were women (two young ladies and three women), bulk of the remaining members are young aspiring footballers.

 

The message was more of breaking curses while the pastor, West, continued to encourage the members to be discipline and pray more.

 

Personally, it was the first church I would attend without a drum not to talk of other musical instruments like keyboard, guitar and others.

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Clash on the Dunes: Joshua aims to reclaim heavyweight titles from Ruiz in Saudi

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Clash on the Dunes:  Joshua aims to reclaim heavyweight titles from Ruiz in Saudi

 

 

A

nthony Joshua and Andy Ruiz Jr  have unfinished business. Well at least the former British world champion Joshua feels he has as he prepares to face the reigning heavyweigh champion in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

 

 

The Clash on the Dunes in Diriyah, Riyadh, is set to bring the two fighters together for a rematch six months after Mexican-American Ruiz shocked the boxing world with a technical knock-out victory over the then unbeaten Joshua at Madison Square Garden in New York.

 

 

To say Ruiz was an underdog would be an understatement. Ruiz had stepped in as an eleventh-hour replacement for Jarrell Miller. Looking overweight and out of shape, few gave him any chance of lasting the distance, never mind winning.

 

 

What followed was an upset to rank alongside Leon Spinks defeating Muhammad Ali in 1978 and, especially, James ‘Buster’ Douglas’s knock-out of then-invincible Mike Tyson in 1990.

 

 

Ruiz knocked Joshua down four times before the fight was stopped in the seventh round.

 

Though Joshua took the loss magnanimously at the time, he has since said he felt Ruiz was “lucky” and clearly believes that a rematch will see him retake what he feels is rightfully his.

 

 

Both fighter’s have only ever lost once.

 

 

Joshua has won 22 of 23 fights, with 21 of those knockouts. Meanwhile Ruiz  record stands at 33 wins (22 KOs) from 34 fights.

 

 

Joshua, who goes into the fight as odds on favourite to retain his title, has already revealed that he sees himself fighting Ruiz for a third time, even as he is already being reportedly lined up to face fellow Briton Tyson Fury or American Deontay Wilder next year.

 

 

But first he must overcome Ruiz at the Clash on the Dunes. And if their last fight is anything to go by, this is far easier said than done, even if the champion has been accused of letting success get to his head. One thing is for sure, no one, least of All Joshua, will be taking the Mexican-American lightly this time around.

 

 

Ruiz said ahead of the clash: “To all my fans please come and support me, it’s going to be a huge fight, it’s the Clash On The Dunes. We are two big guys fighting each other looking to be the Heavyweight Champion of the World.

 

 

“He’s trying to take my belts away so I’m going to do everything that’s possible to win and I’m going to do it for all my people.

 

“They can expect to see someone who is not giving up and doing everything possible to win, God willing we are going to take this victory.”

 

Joshua insisted that :“It’s been about being confident, about knowing my capabilities. I’ve had a great training camp, I am well prepared, and ready to showcase my skills.”

 

 

On what change we will see Saturday night: “I’m forever changing, that’s what training camp is about, evolution, like night and day. I shed the skin from last time, re-built myself, and all I’m doing is going to win, that’s what I’m focused on.”

On looking to have more speed in this fight: “I’m quick anyway. I’m not looking for anything except the win, that’s the objective. It’s about speed, it’s not about nothing else, the objective is just to win, win, win.”

 

 

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Everton seek revival against Chelsea

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Everton seek revival against Chelsea

At the time of writing unpopular Portuguese manager Marco Silva was on the brink of losing his job at Everton following the Toffees’ harrowing 5-2 battering at the hands of local rivals Liverpool at Anfield in mid-week.

 

 

Everton slipped into the Premier League’s dropzone after their Merseyside mauling, and after a dreadful run of eight defeats in 11 games in the competitions, Silva can have few complaints when his imminent removal from office is eventually confirmed.

 

The Toffees fragile state should open the door wide enough for Chelsea to come in and snatch three points at Goodison Park in Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off, and the Blues picked up a much needed, confidence-building three points in their own mid-week outing.

 

Having been turned over at home by West Ham in the shock result of last weekend’s topflight programme, Chelsea bounced straight back at the Bridge on Wednesday with a 2-1 win over a dogged Aston Villa outfit. The victory was Chelsea’s seventh in nine Premier League matches since mid-September, and the Blues’ performances away from home during that stretch were particularly impressive.

 

Frank Lampard’s young charges were edged out by defending champions Manchester City in their last away day assignment, but before that the Blues recorded five straight Premier League wins on the road, scoring a whopping 19 times in the process.

 

In contrast, Everton managed to win just one of their last five league games at Goodison Park, and their embarrassing 0-2 defat to Norwich in their last match on home turf plunged more than a couple of nails in to Marco Silva’s Toffees’ coffin.

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