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Rooney’s MLS adventure comes to sour end

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Rooney’s MLS adventure comes to sour end

Wayne Rooney’s Major League Soccer adventure came to a sour end along with DC United’s season on Saturday as Toronto FC scored a wild 5-1 extra-time playoff win to send the former-England captain on to his next career stop.

Rooney’s departure proved far less exciting than his celebrated arrival on the MLS scene just last year when the one-time wunderkind and Manchester United all-time leading scorer was hyped as the second coming of David Beckham.

But in a career packed with glory and trophies Rooney’s time in the MLS will appear as nothing more than a footnote, reports Reuters.

There will be no great achievement to underline his nearly two-year sojourn to the United States, the 33-year-old unable to add to his legacy of twice getting his club into the postseason but never winning a match.

If Rooney enjoyed his time in North America he kept it to himself on Saturday, dressing quietly and then offering nothing more than a stone-faced glance in the direction of the media as he turned and left the dressing room without saying a word, leaving it to team mates and coaches to reflect on his contributions.

“I think he gave a lot to the organization, he was a great team mate,” said United coach Ben Olsen. “I think he was good to our fans and he was very appreciative of the support he got with our fan base and the community, the DC area.

“It’s an unfortunate way for him to finish.

“I am sure he would have wanted to hit the back of the net and push us into the next round but that’s not how it went.”

Rooney finished Saturday’s contest on the bench after being substituted in overtime, but did not depart BMO Field without offering a reminder of why he is rated one of the game’s great predators.

Twice during a one minute stretch during the second half with Toronto clinging to a 1-0 lead, Rooney forced TFC’s Quentin Westberg to make spectacular saves, later patting the keeper on the back as he walked away shaking his head and looking towards the heavens.

A stoppage-time equalizer from Lucas Rodriguez off a Rooney corner canceled Toronto’s 1-0 lead but did nothing to deflate the homeside who struck four times in the extra session, including a pair from Jonathan Osorio and one each from substitutes Richie Laryea and Nick DeLeon.

Rooney did not bring the charisma of former England captain Beckham to the MLS but offered a well marketed blue collar appeal and a rich resume of success and trophies, including five Premier League titles, an FA Cup and Champions League crown.

There were a few highlight reel moments during his time in the United States, including a brilliant long range strike from his own end of the field against Orlando, while a Twitter spat between his wife Coleen and the wife of his former-England Jamie Vardy kept him in the English tabloid headlines.

But there was nothing accomplished on North American pitches that added anything of substance to his reputation.

He brought a bit more attention and a put few more fans in the seats as DC United moved from RFK Stadium to their new state-of-the-art home Audi Field, but never came close to elevating the MLS profile the way Beckham had on his arrival in Los Angeles in 2007.

Beckham’s impact on the MLS is still being felt while Rooney returns to England to be a player-coach with EFL Championship side Derby County having failed to leave his mark on MLS.

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Vieira to Arsenal fans: Sacking Unai Emery won’t solve problems

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Vieira to Arsenal fans: Sacking Unai Emery won’t solve problems

Patrick Vieira has urged Arsenal fans to “get behind” Unai Emery and says a change of manager will not fix the club’s problems.

The Gunners have slipped eight points adrift of the top-four after winning just one of their last six Premier League fixtures.

The dismal run under former PSG and Sevilla boss Emery has sparked speculation over his future, less than 18 months after he replaced Arsene Wenger in the Emirates hot-seat, reports metro.co.uk.

But Gunners legend Vieira has backed Emery to turn things around at Arsenal and urged his former club to be patient.

“It’s true Arsenal are going through a tough spell,” the former Arsenal captain said. “But I haven’t watched all their matches, so I can’t talk about their game.

“They have a coach who is qualified and who works well. When a club is having a difficult time, it’s important to be united.

“I think he has enough experience to get them through this difficult spell. We have to get behind him and give him time to change things.

“I am not sure a change of manager will fix the problems.”

Gary Neville, the former Manchester United and England defender, also believes Emery deserves more time at Arsenal.

He told Sky Sports: “Arsenal are what they are. They’re a frustration. Emery is being put under big pressure.

“I know that Emery is a great coach and following on from Arsene Wenger was never going to be easy. Great coaches will come into Arsenal and struggle to change things there.

“We’ve seen that at Manchester United when Sir Alex Ferguson left. Ferguson and Wenger were the leaders at those clubs. It’s going to take time and there needs to be patience shown at Arsenal.

“Manchester United and Arsenal are both big clubs, huge clubs, and they will get back, the cycle will turn.”

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Messi’ll stay for another five years – Barca president

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Messi’ll stay for another five years – Barca president

Barcelona’s President Josep Maria Bartomeu has predicted that Lionel Messi will remain as club “leader” for another five years.

Due to a release clause in his contract, Messi is able to end his long-term association with the Catalan giants in the summer.

However, Bartomeu feels that the 32-year-old, who netted another hat-trick for the Spanish giants at the weekend, has the characteristics to stay at Camp Nou until at least 2024.

Bartomeu is quoted by Sky Sports News as saying, “Surely it will be the wish of all parties, if he feels strong and ambitious, to extend this contract indefinitely.

“Ultimately it is he who must decide. He has earned the right to decide when he will stop playing football. But like he said a few weeks ago, he wants to finish his playing career at Barcelona.

“Over the next two or three seasons, our leader will continue to be Leo Messi. There’s no doubt that he is still young, still strong. He is still ambitious. So Leo Messi will still play with us for the next two, three, four or five years. I have no doubts about that.”

Messi has previously been linked with a return to boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys.

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United players organise Dubai training camp

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United players organise Dubai training camp

Several Manchester United players have organised their own training camp in Dubai during the forthcoming international break.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has given players not on international duty some time off and a group have taken it on themselves to organise the trip, taking a couple of members of United’s coaching staff with them to lead sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,reports Skysports.

Some of the squad will remain in Manchester and train at Carrington during the break, so whether it’s the wind and rain of the Aon Training Complex or the blue skies of Dubai, the idea is to build on the industry of the last international break, which resulted in a spirited performance against league leaders Liverpool.

Dubai has become an important base for United this season with Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Luke Shaw all undergoing fitness and rehab programmes there in recent weeks.

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Arsenal insist Unai Emery is ‘the right man for the job’

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Arsenal insist Unai Emery is ‘the right man for the job’

Arsenal have given Unai Emery a public vote of confidence, backing him to turn their fortunes around but adding a clear caveat that the team’s form must improve.

Emery’s position has come under scrutiny after a turbulent start to the season that has brought a run of one win in six Premier League games. They are eight points behind fourth-placed Manchester City and nine short of Leicester, who beat them 2-0 on Saturday and sit in second place.

There is an appetite at boardroom level to give Emery, who replaced Arsène Wenger in May 2018, significantly more time but concern is growing that Arsenal risk falling well out of the running for Champions League qualification and it is unlikely the slide would be allowed to continue indefinitely, reports The Guardian.

On Monday the club’s head of football, Raul Sanllehi, and the managing director, Vinai Venkatesham, told a meeting of 200 club staff at the Emirates Stadium that the manager retains their faith.

“We are as disappointed as everyone else with both our results and performances at this stage of the season. We share the frustration with our fans, Unai, players and all our staff as they are not at the level we want or expect,” read a precis of their comments, circulated by the club and issued in both men’s names.

“Things need to improve to meet our objectives for the season and we firmly believe Unai is the right man for the job, together with the backroom team we have in place. We are all working intensively behind the scenes to turn things around and are confident we will.”

The implication is that Emery, who spent Monday at a UEFA Elite Club Coaches Forum in Nyon, must get a tune out of his players soon if the club’s tone is not to shift. Successive matches against the bottom two, Southampton and Norwich, after the international break offer scope for at least a short-term upturn, as did an improved first hour at the King Power Stadium. But the atmosphere among fans is tense and those at the meeting, which was planned and not a reaction to recent events, also heard an appeal for unity.

“We never take our fantastic support for granted,” the statement attributed to Sanllehi and Venkatesham said. “We hope we can all stick together and get behind the team in this challenging period, as together we are stronger.”

Those words could be interpreted as an appeal directed towards, among others, the fans who jeered Granit Xhaka off the pitch during last month’s draw with Crystal Palace.

Xhaka’s reaction led to a chain of events that have included the midfielder being stripped of the captaincy and effectively declaring himself unavailable to play. He has largely kept his counsel since but told the newspaper Blick, in his native Switzerland, that he is now happy to come back.

“I feel that the incident has been dealt with and I’m ready to return,” Xhaka said. He also made clear his views on the reaction inside the stadium that led him to gesture and swear towards the crowd. “It was very hurtful and frustrating,” he continued. “I can’t understand a reaction like it even now, especially the vehemence of it and the extreme hostility directed against me.

“If the team and I don’t play well, we have to listen and work on it. But insulting and swearing at your own captain will cause upset and a bad atmosphere for the team you are actually supposed to be supporting. That makes no sense to me and weakens the team’s spirit.

“Let’s face it, we’re talking about football and a captaincy. I know that means the world to a lot of people here in London. But we’re at a point now where I have to say clearly that we ought to take stock and make sure things are not getting completely out of hand.”

Xhaka will spend the next week with Switzerland, who face Georgia and Gibraltar. On his return Emery, who last week suggested the midfielder might not play for Arsenal again, will have to decide whether his reintegration is a realistic prospect.

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It’s make-or-break for U-23 team

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It’s make-or-break for U-23 team

…as Amapakabo gets Okechukwu, Awoniyi boost for Zambia

 

After a disappointing 1-0 defeat suffered against Cote d’Ivoire in the opening match of the ongoing U-23 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, the Nigerian U-23 team players are sentenced to win their second group match today against Zambia.

The competition also serves as the qualifier for the football event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and a win is required for the team to bounce back on track in the race for the three tickets to the games.

On the other hand, a draw could place the country’s chances on a cliff hanger while another defeat will send the team out of the competition and out of the contest for a berth at the Tokyo Games football event.

Already, Coach Imama Amapakabo has received boosts for Tuesday’s battle with the arrivals in camp of team captain Azubuike Okechukwu and star forward Taiwo Awoniyi.

The absence of the duo was greatly felt in the opening game of Group B that the defending champions lost by the odd goal to Cote d’Ivoire on Saturday, and Amapakabo is confident their arrival will spur his squad to a better performance against the Zambians.

“I am happy we now have Awoniyi and our captain, Azubuike. They are integral to the team and were influential in our qualifying matches. We will throw everything into the game against Zambia because we have left ourselves no choice at this point.

“I believe we have the team to not only overcome Zambia but go all the way in the tournament. We stumbled against the Ivorians but we have learnt from that and we now look forward to rescuing our campaign against the Zambians and South Africans.”

Former U-17 World Cup winner Awoniyi, who plays for FSV Mainz 05 in the German top division, landed in Cairo late on Sunday, while Turkey-based Okechukwu, who also captained the Class of 2015 and to the gold medal in Senegal, arrived in the early hours of Monday.

Okechukwu’s midfield partnership with Kelechi Nwakali was impactful in the handsome home wins over Libya and Sudan in the qualifying series, while Awoniyi got the important opener and also created chances in the defeat of Sudan that landed the Olympic Eagles in Egypt. 

Nigeria take on Zambia at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo on Tuesday in a game they must pick up the maximum points to return to contention for a place in the semifinals of the competition, ahead of their clash with South Africa on Tuesday.

Only the top three finishers at the U-23 AFCON will qualify to fly Africa’s flag at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Tokyo, Japan next year.

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Sports Minister to adopt 8-year-old boxer, Shekinah

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Sports Minister to adopt 8-year-old boxer, Shekinah

Minister for Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare,  has pledged to adopt an eight-year-old Nigerian female boxer, Shekinah, after watching the youngster displaying her talent at a championship in Lagos.

Dare stated this while posting a video of the female boxer named Shekinah training with her coach. In the video posted by Mr Sunday Dare, it can be seen how hard the coach of the girl was training her and she was also responding in a superb fashion.

Dare on his  Twitter handle explained that he has spoken with Shekinah’s father in Lagos on how she can help her develop her talent.

Dare also made it clear that he has spoken with the coach of the young female boxer Sulaiman with the option of getting her adopted.

The minister said: “Amazing stuff, brilliant boxing. The gold is in the child. I spoke with her father, Quadri in Lagos and her Coach Sulaiman ‘Energy’ to find out about her.  We will follow up on her and get her adopted.’

Since Sunday Dare replaced Solomon Dalung as Sports Minister , he has demonstrated many times how ready he is to take Nigerian Sports to a great height.

He has also made it clear that his major focus is not on football but all the Sporting activities in Nigeria.

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AFCON qualifiers: Eagles’ camp bubbles as 14 players train in Uyo

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AFCON qualifiers: Eagles’ camp bubbles as 14 players train in Uyo
  • Chukwueze, Aribo, seven others to arrive today

 

The Super Eagles’ camp in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State came alive on Monday as 14 players including captain Ahmed Musa trained ahead of Wednesday’s African Cup of Nations qualifying match against benin Republic slated for Godswill Akpabio Stadium on Wednesday.

The Media Director of the Nigeria Football federation Ademola Olajire said in a press statement that that apart from Musa, goalkeepers Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Daniel Akpeyi and Maduka Okoye, defenders Kenneth Omeruo, Chidozie Awaziem, Olaoluwa Aina, Jamilu Collins and Oluwasemilogo Ajayi, midfielders Alex Iwobi, Ramon Azeez and Wilfred Ndidi, and forwards Samuel Kalu and Victor Osimhen were the other players who trained on the grounds of the Ibom Meridien Hotel and Resort on Monday evening.

Olajire also revealed that nine other players wetre being expected on Tuesday morning are defenders William Ekong and Abdullahi Shehu, midfielders Mikel Agu and Joseph Ayodele-Aribo, and forwards Moses Simon, Samuel Chukwueze, Paul Onuachu and Emmanuel Dennis.

Coach Gernot Rohr will have the full complement of his squad in training when they file out for the evening session at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium.

Meanwhile, Rohr has called up Enyimba FC defence stalwart Ifeanyi Anaemena as replacement for Bryan Idowu.

The NFF said Idowu pulled out of the AFCON qualifiers because he was yet to retrieve his  international passport which he submitted for renewal and the document is not ready for him to travel to Nigeria for the encounter.

Anaemena was impressive for the Eagles B in their 2020 African Nations Championship qualifier against Togo at the Agege Stadium last month, and has also been a key player for Enyimba, two –time CAF Champions League winners, as they reached the group phase of this year’s CAF Confederation Cup competition.

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Pinnick gives Rohr conditions for contract renewal

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Pinnick gives Rohr conditions for contract renewal

…says coach must stay in Nigeria, monitor league for talents

 

The Nigeria Football Federation has said it is opened to renewing the contract of Super Eagles Manager Gernot Rohr if the German tactician was ready to accept a new condition of service.

There have been insinuations the NFF is not ready to renew the coach’s contract when it expires next June but  President Amaju Pinnick has downplayed that saying they are opened to continue working with Rohr only if the German will agree to new clauses that would be inserted into a contract they are about to table before the German.

Pinnick said Rohr must be ready to stay and work in Nigeria instead of living in France and saunter into the country only when the Eagles have engagements.

He said the coach must also be ready to watch league games so as to discover talents that will eventually make the grade for the national team.

“He needs to move around, watch some of the league games. We are not saying take a player from here and bring him to the Super Eagles immediately,” he said in a live interview with Channels Television on Monday morning.

“Rohr’s contract is due for renewal in June and we don’t have any issue with him at the moment,” Pinnick stated in a live interview with Channels Television on Monday morning.

”Contracts are classified documents . What we are going to do is strengthen the clauses in his contract. We are going to domesticate Gernot Rohr in Nigeria and domesticate him to our leagues, that’s just it.”

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Delta Principals’ Cup: Zenith Bank boosts last four teams with new kits

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Delta Principals’ Cup: Zenith Bank boosts last four teams with new kits

Sponsors of the ongoing Principals Cup Football Competition for secondary schools in Delta State, Zenith Bank, has boosted the morale of the semifinalists in the 2019 edition of the competition.

The semifinals of the developmental tournament take place on Wednesday in two different centres in the state.

The last four teams – Zappa Secondary School, Asaba from Oshimili South LG, Destiny Secondary School from Ughelli North LG, College of Commerce from Warri South LG and Okotie-Eboh Government School from the Sapele LG- are to get new set of Zenith Bank branded jerseys. Twenty pairs of quality boots were given to all the teams in the last eight stage.

Head of the Technical Committee of the competition, Lucky Sunday, said the gesture was not a new thing.

Sunday said: “We did the same thing in the quarterfinal and also in the opening ceremony. Twenty pairs of boots and 20 jerseys were given to each of the teams that took part in the opening ceremony. We will do the same for the two teams that will qualify for the final.

“Zenith Bank and Delta State Government have been wonderful to these young lads. They are all eager to play and win. For us, the motive is to make these players get used to the proper way of getting involved in football in all aspects.”

The semifinal pairings will see Zappa at war with Destiny secondary school at the Kwale Township Stadium while the encounter between College of Commerce and Okoti-Eboh Government school will take place at the Ughelli Township Stadium.

The two matches take place simultaneously at 2pm on Wednesday.

The Commissioner for Basic and Secondary School Education in Delta State, Chief Patrick Ukah, expressed delight over the progress of  the competition

“I am happy about the general operations of the competition and this is because we have capable hands in all areas in the Local Organising Committee,” Ukah said.

The competition, revived three years ago courtesy of a partnership arrangement between the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa administration and Zenith Bank, started in September with over 850 registered schools.

The final of the competition is scheduled to take place at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba on November 21.

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D’Tigress players storm Maputo

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D’Tigress players storm Maputo

D’Tigress camp came alive on Sunday as players and coaches reported to their base in Maputo for the 2020 pre Olympics qualifiers coming up in Mozambique between November 14 to 17.

The team comprising of returnee, Atosu Upe, 2019 Afrobasket Most Valuable Player Ezinne Kalu, Promise Anumakara, Atonye Nyingifa, Sarah Imovbioh and Evelyn Akhator were received by the coaching crew led by Otis Hughley.

Elo Edeferioka who was called up by Otis to replace Elizabeth Balogun who could not make the pre-qualifiers has also reported to Maputo.

Others who reported to camp include Jasmine Nwajei, Adaora Elonu, Aisha Balarabe, Ify Ibekwe, Victoria Macaulay and Pallas Kunnayi-Akpannah who may be making her debut for Nigeria if selected in the final 12-man roaster.

Nigeria is grouped alongside Host- Mozambique and DR Congo in Group A while Senegal will compete against Angola and Mali in Group B.

The team will have its first training session on Monday ahead the event starting on Thursday, 13th of November.

According to FIBA, three teams from Africa will join 14 other teams from Europe, Asia and the Americas to fight for the 10 slots on offer at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

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