Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic is not training with his team-mates due to an agreement he has with the club, says head coach Maurizio Sarri.
Speaking ahead of Juventus’ Serie A match against Bologna on Saturday, Sarri said: “In this moment Mario Mandzukic is not training with the group due to an agreement he has with the club.”
Mandzukic, who is a target for Manchester United in the January transfer window, attends Juventus’ training centre but works apart from the first-team squad, reports skysports.
Sky in Italy say Mandzukic, 33, who is yet to make an appearance for the Italian giants this season, will be available for transfer in January.
United made a late move for the Croatia international at the end of the summer transfer window, after a move for his team-mate Paulo Dybala collapsed, but ended their pursuit on Deadline Day.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the United manager, has this week told Sky Sports pundit – and former team-mate – Gary Neville that he is “sure” the club will bring in new a signing in January “at the right price”.
And speaking last month, Solskjaer made clear bringing in a striker was a priority after United’s failure to replace Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know it’s a forward we’re going to try to recruit next time,” Solskjaer said. “We’re looking for some creativity and goals, but they [potential signings] have to be the right one.
“There were strikers available [in the summer] but not the ones we wanted. We couldn’t get the one we wanted.”
United considering Can bid in January
United are considering a move for former Liverpool midfielder Emre Can in January, Sky Sports News understands.
The 25-year-old Germany midfielder spent four seasons at Anfield before leaving on a free to join Italian club Juventus at the end of the 2017/18 campaign.
It is understood Juventus would want in the region of £35m for Can, who is yet to start under Sarri this season.
Can, like Mandzukic, was omitted from Juventus’ Champions League squad – despite receiving assurances he would be included.
“The fact that I am not in the Champions League squad is extremely shocking for me, mainly because I was promised something different last week,” Can said in September.
“I had talks with other clubs [in the summer] and one of the conditions for me to stay was to be part of the Champions League squad. Then they phoned me and told me, in a conversation that didn’t even last a minute, that I was not on the list and they didn’t give an explanation.
“That makes me angry and furious, they haven’t been honest with me. If I knew about it earlier, I would not have stayed at Juventus.”
National teams’ failure: Thank God for Super Eagles
Like a raging fire at a plastic factory, failure ripped through Nigerian football in the last few months. That failure nearly consumed everything in its path except for the Super Eagles.
From the Super Falcons to the Golden Eaglets, the CHAN Eagles and the Olympic Eagles, every Nigerian national team that participated in any competition in a period of few months did not succeed.
The senior women’s national team got eliminated from the race to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after losing to Cote d’Ivoire on aggregate in the qualifiers. Despite fielding a strong team of some of Africa’s finest women’s footballers, the African champions could not overcome their West African rivals.
The Super Falcons’ ouster followed a crisis which eventually led to the fractious exit of their Swedish head coach Thomas Dennerby, who had earlier in the year managed the team to a less-than-stellar outing at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
More woes were to follow for Nigeria as the home-based Super Eagles were unable to qualify for the African Nations Championship. The team, coached by Imama Amapakabo, lost scandalously to tiny Togo 4-1 in Lome in the first leg of the qualifiers and a 2-0 win in Lagos was too little, too late. The team will not be attending a tournament whose final they reached just last year in Morocco. In fact, this is the first time Nigeria will be missing CHAN since 2014.
In between the two CHAN qualifying matches, the Eagles lost again to Togo at the West African Football Union Cup where they failed woefully, completing Nigeria’s shame and bringing negative attention to the Nigeria Professional Football League.
As if that was not enough, the Golden Eaglets came up with their worst FIFA U-17 World Cup performance since 2003.
The Eaglets hardly ever disappoint but they did so in large doses in Brazil in November. Their tendency to start poorly only to finish strong finally caught up with the Nigerian youngsters as they lost 3-1 to Holland in their round of 16 clash.
The Eaglets had come from behind to beat Hungary 4-2 and Ecuador 3-2 and still won their group despite a 2-1 defeat to Australia.
But the chaotic play of Manu Garba’s boy could not survive an organised Dutch side in the round of 16. The five-time champions were on their way home early.
Perhaps the most painful of the poor Nigerian results was the U-23 team’s elimination from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Amapakabo, after overseeing that CHAN farce, was somehow still allowed to lead the Olympic Eagles to Egypt for the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations, which served as the qualifying tournament for the Tokyo Games.
All Nigeria needed to do was finish in the top three among the eight participating nations. But that was too much of a tall order for Amapakabo and his team as they scored in and won only one of their three group games.
The team that won bronze at the last Olympics will not be going for this one.
In the midst of all the negativity, the Super Eagles faced two 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Benin Republic and Lesotho. Two matches you would expect the three-time African champions to win against their underdog opponents.
But the Super Eagles also toyed with disaster before pulling through. They conceded first in both games before beating Benin 2-1 in Uyo and Lesotho 4-2 in Maseru.
The Super Eagles prevented total disaster for the country and the Nigeria Football Federation but the poor results prompted the sports minister Sunday Dare to speak out and seek solutions.
Like an oasis in the middle of the desert, the Super Eagles provided some temporary succour but it was not enough.
After the 0-0 draw against South Africa that ended the U-23s participation in Cairo, Dare tweeted:
“Nigeria’s game against S.A. which ended in a draw concentrates the mind. Time to take a look back and find out where the rain began to beat us. Like I said before, our football needs a return to the basics of grassroot football, pristine sports admin, sound technical coaching…
“Government will take appropriate steps and in a timely fashion to improve our football fortunes. Current outcomes offer the opportunity to review, restrategize and develop a long term plan for football development. We will dust up great ideas already abandoned and implement.
“Nigerian football across the spectrum will benefit from this new outlook which will involve critical stakeholders. Government, mindful that Nigeria is a football nation will be bold in embracing best practices in modern football.”
Big words, but Nigeria has always had the right words. It is the right action that has been lacking over the years.
If Dare goes ahead to make an attempt to rebuild Nigerian football and other sports from the ground up, results will improve and sportsmen and women will be better for it.
The minister is hopefully on the right path and he is ready to drag the NFF along.
“Football :Yesterday I led the Ministry of Youth and Sports in a meeting with the NFF,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “A single agenda meeting: to provide an explanation to the country as to why we suffered several failures recently – towards taking appropriate and far reaching steps to improve Nigerian football.”
Please take these ‘far-reaching steps’, oga minister.
Akpeyi suspended in South Africa
Super Eagles goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi has been ruled out of Kaizer Chiefs’ Telkom Cup semifinal clash against Maritzburg United slated for Sunday at the Mbombela Stadium.
Akpeyi manned the posts in Super Eagles’ back to back wins in the 2021 AFCON qualifying matches this past week.
However, the goalkeeper will sit out of the cup clash after receiving his fourth booking of the season in the Amakhosi’s 3-2 win over Orlando Pirates.
The 33-year-old who was outstanding for Kaizer Chief in the round of 16 and quarter-finals of the competition, has left head coach Ernst Middendorp in search of a suitable replacement.
“It’s something we know, the next game against Maritzburg on November 24, Akpeyi can’t play, so we have to go very clearly into it,” Middendorp told kickoff.com.
“We don’t have Erick Mathoho available, so we have little time to look into it.
“We are looking into what their strong side is in terms of the setup and elements, then we’ll try to prepare ourselves to be successful in that game.”
Akpeyi has made eight appearances for the Amakhosi this season keeping four clean sheets in the process.
Ighalo, Iwobi, Ndidi, Uzoho shortlisted for 2019 CAF Best XI
The Nigerian quartet could be rewarded for their impressive displays this year, having been nominated for the continent’s best XI
Former Nigeria international Odion Ighalo, Alex Iwobi, Wilfred Ndidi and Francis Uzoho have been shortlisted for the 2019 Caf best XI.
Shanghai Greenland Shenhua striker Ighalo delivered impressive showings at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
The former Watford forward scored five goals in the competition to win the Golden Boot award and helped the Super Eagles clinch their eighth bronze medal before his retirement from international duty.
Leicester City combative midfielder, Ndidi has been a consistent performer for both club and country, finishing as the 2018-19 Premier League top tackler.
Everton midfielder Alex Iwobi and AC Omonia goalkeeper Uzoho also played key roles for the Super Eagles in Egypt and will hope to make the final team.
The Caf best XI will be announced in a ceremony on January 7, 2020.
CAF best XI
Goalkeepers: Moez Ben Cherifia, Yassine Bonnou, Mohamed El Shenaway, Sylvain Gbohouo, Rais M’bolhi, Edouard Mendy, Richard Ofori, Andre Onana, Denis Onyango, Francis Uzoho
Defenders: Youcef Atal, Serge Aurier, Mehdi Benatia, Ahmed El-Mohammadi, Lamine Gassama, Faouzi Ghoulam, Achraf Hakimi, Ahmed Hegazi, Kalidou Koulibaly, Christian Luyindama, Issa Mandi, Joel Matip, Noussair Mazraoui, Yassine Meriah, Youssouf Sabaly.
Midfielders: Andre-Frank Anguissa, Ismael Bennacer, Sofiane Feghouli, Idrissa Gueye, Tarek Hamed, Alex Iwobi, Wahbi Khazri, Naby Keita, Franck Kessie, Wilfried Ndidi, Riyad Mahrez, Thomas Partey, Mubarak Wakaso, Victor Wanyama, Hakim Ziyech.
Forwards: Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Jordan Ayew, Anis Badri, Cedric Bakambu, Youcef Belaili, Baghdad Bounedjah, Odion Ighalo, Sadio Mane, Moussa Marega, Mbaye Niang, Nicolas Pepe, Mohamed Salah, Islam Slimani, Percy Tau, Wilfried Zaha.
FIFA Beach Soccer W/C: Nigeria not afraid of Brazil – coach
Nigeria’s coach to the 10th FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup finals taking place in Paraguay, South America,Coach Audu Adamu , has said they will not be afraid of Brazil when they meet in the group stage.
Adamu said they had gained experience from this year’s Copa Lagos at Eko Atlantic, in which the Eagles beat world champions, Brazil 6-5 to emerge runners-up behind Senegal.
He enthused that his players would take confidence from their 6-5 win over Brazil, as well as with a 3-2 victory against England, and build on that gain in Paraguay, where he believes his lads have enough inspiration to gun for global glory.
Adamu stated: “I am happy with the win over Brazil, it says a lot. Beating the world champions is a sort of confidence for the boys. We’ll head for the World Cup with renewed belief and confidence in our own abilities.
“I am impressed with how we played despite the obvious shoddy preparations we had. We did well to play and fight against some of the best teams in beach soccer.”
A special preview by fifa.com acknowledged Brazil as ‘the originators of beach soccer’ and highly rated to repeat as winners as they did in Bahamas two years ago, while Portugal are rated second overall on the cards, thereby limiting Nigeria’s chances of a top-two finish in the group.
Mourinho eyes January move for Osimhen
Newly-appointed Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho has joined the league of coaches that are interested in signing Nigeria international Victor Osimhen who currently plays for French club Lille . According to the report by Jeunes Footeux, Mourinho is ready to table an impressive deal for Lille when the January transfer window opens to lure Osimhen to England. Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham on Wednesday, November 20, and the Portuguese has started preparation for his first game against West Ham United. The former Chelsea and Manchester United manager has been given the mandate to save the club from going down this season as they currently occupy 14th position on the standings. Mourinho believes the 20-year-old Nigeria striker can support Harry Kane upfront in his squad next year.
Osimhen has been impressive this season for Lille in all competitions scoring seven goals in the League as well as scoring against Chelsea in the Champions League. He has also been superb for Super Eagles since Odion Ighalo retired from the national team after the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Egypt. Meanwhile, Lille might not want to sell Victor Osimhen in January 2019 considering how superb he has been for them this season.
Earlier, Legit.ng had reported how Nigeria’s Super Eagles cruised to 4-2 win over Lesotho in their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Setsoto Stadium in which Osimhen scored brace. The three-time African kings got the game started on a flat-foot as they allowed the host to take the lead in the 11th minute through a superb header from Masoabi Nkoto.
Patrick Pascal: Eagles have survived rebuilding process
…says Osimhen, Kalu, Chukwueze can wreck any team
- ‘It’s time for consolidation’
Super Eagles coordinator Patrick Pascal has said the team has surpassed rebuilding stage and now in the process of consolidation.
The former international said every aspect of the current side is good and the coach crew is now working on perfection as they prepare to rub shoulders with the best teams in the world.
He said the youngsters in the squad were proving their mettle and the national team is benefiting from their regular playing time at their various clubsides abroad.
“We expect the kind of result the Eagles recorded against Lesotho from a team that is gelling. We cannot say we are rebuilding a team again; we are set to keep improving in all areas because we have a set of very young players who are playing every week for their clubs. The likes of Victor Osimhen, Samuel Chukwueze, Samuel Kalu, Alex Iwobi are doing well in Europe and that reflects in the way the national team is growing.
“If you are in the national team, you would be excited to work with these players not only because they are talented but their determination and commitment is something that will make the squad great,” he said.
The former Shooting Stars of Ibadan defender is not surprised about the growing reputation of one of his players Osimhen, saying the striker had shown he was the future of Nigerian football since his time at U-17.
“Osimhen is one player that has made everyone in the national team happy but I am not surprised. He scored 10 goals in U-17 World Cup for Nigeria and his performance in the U-23 team where he scored three goals against Libya proved that he was ready for the big stage. He has been doing well for Lille and now he makes sure Nigeria does not suffer after Odion Ighalo retires,” he said.
Nigeria came back from one goal down to beat Lesotho 4-2 and Pascal said Eagles would how recorded more goals had they played on a natural pitch.
“Some clubs would have released these players because of artificial pitch. Eagles have the capacity to score more goals but they were slowed down greatly by the pitch, ” he added.
Musa sponsors 100 students to university
Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa has announced he will be sponsoring 100 students at a university in the Nigerian city of Kano.
Musa has made the gesture to mark his ambassadorial role for the Skyline University.
Despite its size Kano and being the commercial centre of northern Nigeria there is a real lack of opportunity for education, which many simply cannot afford.
On social media, the former Kano Pillars forward said the sponsorship is designed to “promote this vision of becoming anything you want to be in life as long as you can dream it.
“So, I am pleased to let you know that I would be sponsoring 100 students at this university. Yes! 100. Details to follow shortly.”
It is the latest charitable gesture the 27-year-old has made in the city and across the region.
During his summer breaks he regularly donates food, mattresses as well as making financial contributions.
He follows in the footsteps of former Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo who handed out 300 educational scholarship awards to students in the country’s Niger Delta region back in 2007.
Bet9ja champions grassroots development
Top Gaming outfit Bet9ja is keen to change the narrative about sport’s betting through the more than a bet campaign which would support grassroots sports development .
According to The Senior Marketing Manager of Bet9ja, Olufemi Osobajo, the company was committed to educating Nigerians through the “more than a bet.’’ campaign.
Osobajo said it was important to impact on the society by championing a cause that would empower people which is the core value of the organization.
He said one betting ticket could change the fortune of an individual,even as the organization seeks to boost the living standard of the masses.
“We are keen on helping the elderly, assisting women in sports and support special sports athletes to realize their dreams .We are also lending support to mental health problem .
“The impact we made over the years speaks volume about our core values. But as we move into another year, we will focus on ‘more than a bet’ initiative to change people’s fortunes.
Speaking in similar vein, Head of Human Resources Bet9ja, Kikky Boboye, affirmed that they would be more active in community -based projects to ensure further grassroots development.
“Some of the initiatives are things we have done previously,now we are just reviving them. We will venture into female football and convince Nigerians that we are more than a gaming outfit,” Boboye noted.
See sports beyond recreation, Sirawoo charges athletes
The President, Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) Honour Sirawoo has charged athletes and team players in Yobe State to aspire beyond the state in their chosen sports. He gave the charge in Damaturu, Yobe State capital, shortly after inspecting facilities at the August 27 Stadium, where he addressed athletes preparing for international championship among others as part of activities marking his two-day official visit to the state.
Sirawoo, who appreciated the level of engagements of young talents in the sports development architecture of the state said with determination, their dreams of becoming great players could be achieved. He told the athletes that sports have gone beyond recreation to become a moneyspinning venture, which if properly harnessed will reduce youth restiveness in the society.
“Sports is now a serious business, if you do it well, you will attract wealth, you will attract respect to your people, you will serve as a model to others and be useful to society,” the nation’s number one sports journalist said. The SWAN President, who charged members of the association in the state to be proactive, equally called on the government to upgrade facilities at the August 27 Stadium to expand the frontiers of sports in Yobe State. He urged SWAN members to close ranks with a view to growing the association to greater heights, emphasizing
Mourinho: I’ve learnt my lesson, I won’t repeat past mistakes at Tottenham
New Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho says he will not make the same mistakes at Spurs that he did in previous managerial roles.
The Portuguese replaced Mauricio Pochettino on Wednesday, ending an 11-month spell out of management following his sacking by Manchester United.
Mourinho described himself as humble in his first news conference as Spurs boss, saying he spent his time away from football analysing his career, reports the BBC.
“I realised I made mistakes,” he said.
“I’m not going to make the same mistakes. I’ll make new mistakes – but not the same.”
Mourinho, who would not be drawn on what mistakes he was referring to, added: “I am humble, humble enough to try and analyse my career – not just the last year, but the whole thing, the evolution, the problems and the solutions. Not to blame anyone else.
“It was a great thing. I went really deep with that analysis. A break was very positive for me. It was the first summer I did not work and I felt a little bit at a loss during that pre-season.
“I was always humble, in my way. The problem is you didn’t understand that.”
Mourinho’s time at Manchester United came to an end last December with the club 19 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool.
He had also reportedly fallen out with £89m signing Paul Pogba and was criticised by fans towards the end of his tenure for playing dull, defensive football.
The former Porto, Chelsea and Real Madrid manager’s departure from Old Trafford continued his run of having never completed four consecutive seasons in charge of a club.
“When I don’t win I cannot be happy and I cannot change that,” Mourinho added. “That is my DNA.
“I hope I can influence my players, because if you are happy losing football matches it is very hard to be a winner.
“Sometimes you have to work with people you don’t love and work well. I have principles that I cannot change and one of those is that I don’t think I can change.”
‘I don’t need new players’
Mourinho spent nearly £400m on 11 players during his two years at Manchester United, but believes he has already inherited a quality squad at Spurs.
“The best gift for me, I don’t need players,” he added. “I am happy with the ones I have.
“I just need more time with them. I know them well from playing against them, but you never know them well enough.”
The 56-year-old takes charge of a Spurs side that are 14th in the Premier League with just three league wins all season.
However, Mourinho, who has won trophies at every club he has managed, is confident the club’s fortunes will soon turn around.
He said: “We cannot win the Premier League this season, but we can win it next season. Not will, but can.”
‘Pochettino welcome back any time’
Despite Tottenham’s poor start to the season, Pochettino’s departure on Tuesday had come as a surprise to many with the club having reached the Champions League final – where they lost to Liverpool – just six months earlier.
Mourinho paid tribute to his predecessor, saying: “I have to congratulate him for the work he has done.
“This club will always be his home. This training ground will always be his training ground. The door will always be open for him.
“He can come when he wants. When he misses the players, when he misses the people he worked with. The door is always open for him.
“He will find happiness again. He will find a great club again. He will have a great future.”
‘He’d realised he had gone too far’
Former Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher believes fans will see a different Mourinho to the one towards the end of his reign at Old Trafford.
Fletcher told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I know for a fact when he left Manchester United he did a little bit of reflecting and asked a few people ‘tell me what I was like, give it to me straight’.
“That, for me is the sign of someone who had maybe realised he had gone a bit too far in that way.
“I am sure he had his own frustrations just as the players and people had with him and the things that went on towards the end but I don’t expect it to be the Jose we have seen in the last couple of years.”
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