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UEFA League roundup: Mbappé, Sterling score hat-tricks in PSG, City routs

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UEFA League roundup: Mbappé, Sterling score hat-tricks in PSG, City routs

Kylian Mbappé came off the bench to grab a second half hat-trick and inspire Paris Saint-Germain to a runaway 5-0 victory at Belgium’s Club Brugge in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The win kept up their 100% record in Group A with the French team on nine points at the halfway mark and on the cusp of qualification for the next phase, a comfortable five points ahead of second placed Real Madrid, who won 1-0 against Galatasaray in Turkey.

Juventus forward Paulo Dybala scored twice in three minutes late in the game to give the Turin side a 2-1 win over Lokomotiv Moscowafter the Russians had taken a shock first-half lead, reports The Press Association.

Aleksei Miranchuk stunned the Juventus Stadium by putting the visitors ahead after half an hour of the Group D match despite the home side having 70% of possession in the first half.

Lokomotiv’s blanket defence frustrated the Serie A champions until Dybala equalised with an exquisite shot from outside the area in the 77th minute and the Argentine struck again three minutes later to complete a dramatic win.

In the other game in Group D Atlético Madrid substitute Álvaro Morata scored a late second half header to give his team a 1-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen.

Bayern Munich needed two goals from their top scorer Robert Lewandowski to sneak past hosts Olympiakos 3-2 on Tuesday and remain top of their Champions League.

The win lifted Bayern to nine point from three games. Tottenham crushed Red Star Belgrade 5-0 to move up to second place on four, one ahead of the Serbs.

And in Group C, Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb played out a 2-2 draw, with Dodo’s 75th-minute equaliser.

And on a night of firsts for Manchester City, they could savour Raheem Sterling’s maiden Champions League hat-trick. If the only red card of Phil Foden’s career was a footnote, a superlative display by Sterling, who epitomises Pep Guardiola’s quest for perpetual, exponential improvement brought another milestone in his development. It was all the more remarkable as it came in 11 minutes and as he had already played a part in City’s first two goals. They scored five to give them a five-point lead in Group C. It was quite a turnaround after trailing to Atalanta. If Sergio Agüero’s double gave City a further reason to be relieved he escaped unhurt from a car crash last week, even he was overshadowed by Sterling.

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Sports Minister moves to resolve AFN crisis

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Sports Minister moves to resolve AFN crisis

Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, has promised to set up a Committee to look into the current crisis rocking the board of the Athletic Federation of Nigeria with a view to resolve it.

The Minister said in his official Tweeter that: “I will be announcing shortly the constitution of a Crisis Resolution Team (CRT) to look into the AFN crisis.

He stated that interest of Nigeria and her athletes trumps every other consideration at this point.

The AFN had announced its breakout from the Sports Ministry on Thursday after its extra-ordinary Congress in Awka, Anambra State, where it made resolutions including rejecting the resignation of Solomon Ogba from the board alongside sacking six of its members.

Amidst the debacle, the Sports Ministry was blamed for meddling with activities of the Athletics body.

Dare who had ordered for the sacking of the body’s Technical Director Sunday Adeleye had yet to make a statement concerning the issue until yesterday.

The former NCC stalwart, a vibrant Twitter user, announced that the CRT was underway.

Only on Sunday, AFN President, Ibrahim Gusau, stated that the crisis was a sad development for the country and that he was ready for dialogue.

He explained the autonomy the athletics body was yearning for which angered the ministry of sports.

Gusau said: “The autonomy we are talking about is in so far as administering the Federation is concerned and had always been in existence in the statutes of the AFN, the CAA and the WA.  We have always borne all expenses associated with the administration of the Federation.

“This does not however, preclude the Government, through the FMYSD, from meeting its obligations to the athletes.  If athletes are representing Nigeria in a competition, it behoves on the government to take care of them because they are representing the country, not the Federation.”   

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Lagos hosts Kaita Athletics Feb 29

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Lagos hosts Kaita Athletics Feb 29

As part the efforts to boost athletics in the country, the inaugural Ahmed Ahijo Kaita Athletics meet will take place at the Yaba College of Technology Sports Ground, Lagos on February 29.

The sponsor, Alhaji Ahmed Kaita, who is the Chairman of Katsina State Athletics Federation stated that he was doing this to prepare the country’s athletes ahead of the National Sports Festival in Edo State in March next year and the Tokyo Olympics Games next year August.

He said his decision to do this was informed by the poor run of Nigerian athletes in international championships recently especially the last World Championship in Doha, Qatar.

Kaita said the Lagos Meet would be an International of Athletics Association Federations IAAF sanctioned championship adding that gold, silver and bronze medalists will go home with some cash prizes.

According to him, events will hold in 100m men and women, 4 x 100 relay, 4 x 400, mixed relay races, shot put, long jump and discuss for men and women.

He said the major focus would be on the relay races which gave Nigeria her first medal at the Olympics in Los Angeles Games in 1984.

The Katsina Athletics boss disclosed that since the relay race of the quartet of Nigeria’s Innocent Egbunike, Sunday Uti, Moses Ugbesien and Rotimi Peters was the first that won the first medal in athletics for the country at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, there is need to focus more on the relay events.

“We want to bring back the old memories of Nigeria in athletics particularly in the relay races at the Olympic level.

“This is what we are coming out to correct. We do not want such abnormal experience of Doha to occur again. We condemn it in totality,” he added.

He also said foreign based athletes representing Nigeria at international competitions must be compelled to take part in trials against the home based as was the practice in the past.

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Sylvester, Quadre win Rainoil tennis meet

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Sylvester, Quadre win Rainoil tennis meet

Nigeria’s male and female No 1 players, Sylvester Emmanuel and Oyinlomo Quadre continued their dominance of the local scene when they defeated all comers to be crowned winners of this year’s Rainoil tennis open championship which ended on Sunday.

Held at the Clay Court of the Lagos Country Club, Ikeja Lagos, Sylvester defeated men’s singles defending champion, Joseph Imeh, by two straight sets of 6/2, 6/3 to emerge winner and cart away the trophy and N500,000 at stake while Imeh got N250,000 for his efforts.

In the women category, Oyinlomo wasted no time in beating old war horse, Christie Agugbom, 6-1, 3-0 (rtd) to take the title and N400,000 prize money while the runners- up got N200,000.

The men’s doubles was won by Uche Oparaoji and Godgift Timibra  just as Oyinlomo Quadre and Omolayo Bamidele won the women doubles event.

Winners for the men and women doubles got N250,00 and N200,000 respectively.

Speaking on her victory, Oyinlomo said that hard work and dedication made it possible for her to overcome experienced Agugbom whom she praised for her fighting spirit just as she commended the sponsors for putting up the tournament.

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Lyon donates N750,000 to chess championship winner

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Lyon donates N750,000 to chess championship winner

Bayelsa state Governor-elect,  David Lyon  at the weekend said his administration would use sport to restore hope  among the youth in the state.

The Governor-elect  was represented by Prince Ebitimi Amgbare at the presentation  N750,000 to  Miss Deborah Quickpen.

Quickpen  who is only seven yerae old will represent Nigeria at the African Youth Chess Championship coming up in Namibia this month.

According  to Hon. Lyon, “It is for this reason that our incoming administration intends to use sport as a veritable tool for development, with  the understanding that sport can serve as an impetus for social transformation and change as the state moves to the next of rapid socio-economic development.

He noted that sport can also serve as a tool for crime prevention, conflict resolution and promote inclusive good governance,  with a view to creating a peaceful environment for meaningful development.

While appreciating the good gesture of the Governor-elect, recipient of the seven hundred and fifty thousand naira cheque, Miss Deborah Quickpen thanked the Governor-elect for coming to her aid to enable her represent Nigeria at the forthcoming African Youth Chess Championship in Namibia,  assuring that she will not disappoint the country at the continental competition.

Also speaking,  father of the girl, Mr. Ben Quickpen, who also is the current world’s number 10th man in scrabble and a three times national champion in the game, expressed surprise that his daughter would be sponsored to participate in the forthcoming African Chess Youth Championship in Namibia by the Governor-elect whom he had never met in life.

On his part, Chairman,  Bayelsa State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr Samuel Numonengi, said the good gesture of the Governor-elect in taking up the bills of Miss Quickpen to enable her participate in the African Youth Chess Championship speaks volumes of his benevolence and passion for sports development.

Also speaking, a lecturer with the Niger Delta University,  Amassoma,  Dr. Phillips Okolo described the gesture of the Governor-elect as a pointer to good things to come to Bayelsa state. 

He used the occasion to appeal to the incoming administration to run an open and inclusive government where every stakeholder would be accommodated irrespective of political divides.

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AFCON 2021: Eagles’ll qualify for final – Aribo

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AFCON 2021: Eagles’ll qualify for final  – Aribo

Super Eagles new sensational midfielder, Joe Aribo, has declared that the Super Eagles will qualify for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, as he believes they will maintain their momentum in the qualification series.

The Glasgow Rangers of Scotland midfielder added that he was happy being part of the Eagles’ in the matches and victories against Benin Republic and Lesotho, which were his first two competitive games for Nigeria, and he is now optimistic of better results coming ahead.

He stated further during 101.5 FM Radio programme monitored yesterday that he was equally happy that his decision to commit his international future to Nigeria was paying off, as he has two goals to his name in four matches,adding that the team is doing well within the short time he has been with them.

The 23-year-old box-to-box midfielder also spoke on his decision to accept playing for Nigeria, rather than stick out for an international future with England, saying it was mostly about the love of donning the colours of his father’s country, and he has nothing to rue in that decision.

Although the 23-year-old former Charlton Athletic sensation admitted it is a big challenge for him to wear Nigeria’s number 10 jersey vacated by the immediate past captain, John Mikel Obi, Aribo enthused that the team’s united spirit and his own determination to succeed with the squad will spur him into making his impact felt in all subsequent matches he is involved in.

“I am happy that we started well in the qualifiers. We’ve won our first two matches, and now we have to keep the momentum going. I am happy that I am part of this team and I believe we will qualify,” he said.

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WADA bans Russia from 2022 World Cup, 2020 Olympic Games

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WADA bans Russia from 2022 World Cup, 2020 Olympic Games

WADA bans Russia from 2022World Cup, 2020 Olympic Games

Russia has been handed a four-year ban from all major sporting events by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

It means the Russia flag and anthem will not be allowed at events such as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and football’s 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

But athletes who can prove they are untainted by the doping scandal will be able to compete under a neutral flag.

WADA’s executive committee made the unanimous decision in a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland.

It comes after Russia’s Anti Doping Agency (Rusada) was declared non-compliant for manipulating laboratory data handed over to investigators in January 2019.

It had to hand over data to Wada as a condition of its controversial reinstatement in 2018 after a three-year suspension for its vast state-sponsored doping scandal.

WADA says Rusada has 21 days to appeal against the ban. If it does so, the appeal will be referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Wada vice-president Linda Helleland said the ban was “not enough”.

“I wanted sanctions that can not be watered down,” she said. “We owe it to the clean athletes to implement the sanctions as strongly as possible.”

A total of 168 Russian athletes competed under a neutral flag at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang after the country was banned following the 2014 Games, which it hosted in Sochi. Russian athletes won 33 medals in Sochi, 13 of which were gold.

Russia has been banned from competing as a nation in athletics since 2015.

Despite the ban, Russia will be able to compete at Euro 2020 – in which St Petersburg will be a host city – as European football’s governing body UEFA is not defined as a ‘major event organisation’ with regards to rulings on anti-doping breaches.

Rusada was initially declared non-compliant in November 2015 after a Wada-commissioned report by sports lawyer Professor Richard McLaren alleged widespread corruption that amounted to state-sponsored doping in Russian track and field athletics.

A further report, published in July 2016, declared Russia operated a state-sponsored doping programme for four years across the “vast majority” of summer and winter Olympic sports.

In 2018, WADA reinstated Rusada as compliant after the national agency agreed to release data from its Moscow laboratory from the period between January 2012 and August 2015.

However, positive findings contained in a version courtesy of a whistleblower in 2017 were missing from the January 2019 data, which prompted a new inquiry.

WADA’s compliance review committee (CRC) recommended a raft of measures based “in particular” on a forensic review of inconsistencies found in some of that data.

As part of the ban, Russia may not host, or bid for or be granted the right to host any major events for four years, including the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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Basketball player fined in China for not looking at flag during national anthem

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French former NBA player has been reprimanded and fined $1,400 by sports officials in China for not looking at the Chinese flag during the national anthem before a game.

Players with the Chinese Basketball Association are supposed to stare at the national symbol during the “March of the Volunteers”, but television images showed Guerschon Yabusele, who plays for Nanjing Tongxi Monkey King, had his head down before Friday’s game.

Yabusele was given a “serious warning” and a 10,000-yuan fine for not looking at the flag as required, the CBA said in a statement on Saturday.

Yabusele, who played forward for the Boston Celtics for two seasons before joining the CBA team this year, has not commented on the incident.

China’s government has stepped up the promotion of patriotism under President Xi Jinping, with legislation approved in 2017 to punish anyone who disrespects the national anthem with up to three years in prison.

Opinions on Yabusele’s punishment were divided on Chinese social media.

“He’s happy to take money from China, but he doesn’t respect it,” one person wrote on the popular Weibo social media platform.

“This player must be expelled immediately and his club must be disqualified from the championship,” another said.

But many found the sanction to be harsh.

“It’s nonsense. First, he’s not Chinese. Moreover, he stood up and didn’t make any insulting gesture,” one person wrote.

“He has his head down. So what? In what era does the CBA live? It’s 50 years behind.”

Yabusele is not the first foreign athlete to break patriotic rules in China.

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Valuejet IAU African Championship: How N1m incentive motivated Nigerians

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Some of the country’s long distance runners have praised the chairman of Valuejet, Kunle Soname, for motivating them to achieving success at the inaugural edition of the Valuejet IAU African Championship that took place in Sagamu, Ogun State, at the weekend.

The 50km Ultra-Marathon was won by South African as Nigeria finished in the top three with Ilya Pam and Elizabeth Nuhu finishing third and second in the men and women individual race respectively.

Speaking with our correspondent after the race on Saturday, the two Nigerians said they were more motivated after the announcement of another N1M for any of the country’s athletes who finished in the top five.

“Even though I wanted to win the race because we are tired of other countries coming to Nigeria to take away our prize money, but the extra motivation of N1m actually propelled us to do more than before,” Pam said.

“It was a difficult race because some of us are just participating in a marathon more than 42km for the first time, and at some point in the race, I was thinking I am going to win it after leading for more than 35km of the race, but the South Africans are used to it and they overtook me unfortunately but I kept my pace and finished third.

“I am a Nigerian policeman and I feel comfortable even though this is my first time running 50km race.

“It is not easy for a Nigerian policeman to do this thing because you have to be on duty and at the same time practice for the race.

“I appreciate the Inspector General of Police, who has been encouraging me. I traveled to represent the Nigerian Police in China at the World Police Games, where I came third.

“From there I picked up that motivation to compete with foreigners in Nigerian competitions.”

Nuhu who finished second in the women category said it was a great moment taking part in a race longer than the usual 42km.

It would be recalled that South Africa’s Thobile Mbolekwa won the men’s event in 3:00.02 while the women race was won by another South African,  Sanelisiwe Mbanjwa, in 3:04:45.

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EPL: Arsenal strike back to end winless run at West Ham

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EPL: Arsenal strike back to end winless run at West Ham

Arsenal came from behind to end their nine-match winless streak as Freddie Ljungberg enjoyed his first victory as interim manager at the expense of his former club West Ham.

Eighteen-year-old Gabriel Martinelli marked his full Premier League debut by side-footing an equaliser which cancelled out Angelo Ogbonna’s deflected first-half opener at London Stadium.

Within nine minutes, Nicolas Pepe had curled a magnificent second into the top corner and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fired in a third reports the BBC.

The salvo turned the game on its head and piled the pressure on West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini, whose side have taken four points from their past nine league games and conceded three times in three successive home games.

The Hammers remain a point above the relegation zone in 16th and face a trip to third-bottom Southampton on Saturday. Arsenal move up two places to ninth.

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Ex-United star, Herrera, among 36 players cleared of corruption

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Ex-United star, Herrera, among 36 players cleared of corruption

Paris St-Germain midfielder Ander Herrera is among 36 players who have been cleared of fixing a match between Levante and Real Zaragoza in 2011.
Zaragoza won the game but were accused of paying Levante players 965,000 euros (£812,851) to lose so they could avoid relegation in the 2010-11 season.
Leganes coach Javier Aguirre and ex-Atletico Madrid captain Gabi Fernandez were also among those who stood trial, reports the BBC.
All 41 people accused were found not guilty of sporting corruption.
In a statement, the court cited a lack of evidence.
However, two former Zaragoza officials were convicted of fraud.
The judge found former president Agapito Iglesias and former financial director Javier Porquera guilty of using 1.73m euros (£1.46m) from Zaragoza’s accounts to pay players relegation bonuses.
They were issued a jail sentence of one year and three months but are unlikely to serve jail time due to Spanish rules over suspended sentences for first-time offenders.

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