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Showing posts with label Sports. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sports. Show all posts

Sunday, January 24, 2021

January 24, 2021

FA Cup: Man Utd Defeats Liverpool To Advance To 5th Round

Bruno Fernandes' superb 78th-minute free-kick gave Manchester United victory in a thrilling FA Cup tie with old rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford.

Liverpool led a fantastic contest through Mohamed Salah, who then equalised after Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford had struck for the hosts either side of the break.

But in a game which had everything last week's drab stalemate between this pair at Anfield lacked, Fernandes came off the bench to have the final word after Fabinho had fouled Edinson Cavani on the edge of the area.

Fernandes might have been slightly off the pace in recent games but when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needed his £47m inspiration to come up with another special moment, the Portuguese delivered, bending his shot round the wall and beyond Allison's reach.

The victory earns United a home meeting with an in-form West Ham side managed by former boss David Moyes in the fifth round.

But the search for form goes on for Liverpool, whose only win in seven games since that seven-goal hammering of Crystal Palace came against Aston Villa's kids in the last round, and who have a meeting with Jose Mourinho's Tottenham looming on Thursday.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

January 21, 2021

Odukpani-born Ex-Super Eagles Goalkeeper And Assistant Coach, Joe Erico Is Dead


Nigerian football was again thrown into mourning on Thursday after news broke of the death of former Nigeria senior team goalkeeper and one-time assistant coach of the Super Eagles, Joe Erico.

Family sources said the flamboyant trainer of trainers and respected nurturer of talents complained of body pain and was treated for malaria, only to be found dead in his bed at dawn on Thursday.

Born Joseph Bassey Eric in the Odukpani local government area in what is today known as Cross River State, Erico belonged to the cast of the very best goalkeepers in the history of Nigeria’s senior team, and served at the same period as the revered Emmanuel Okala and Eyo Essien.

He made his debut for then Green Eagles in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Zambia in Lagos in July 1973 (which Nigeria won 3-2), and then kept goal in all of Nigeria’s six matches at the 1976 Africa Cup of Nations in Ethiopia, where the Eagles finished third – the first time Nigeria would win a medal at the AFCON. Erico was also in goal in all of Nigeria’s pre-tournament friendlies against Kenya, Zambia and Tanzania just before the team flew to Ethiopia.

“It is another sad day for Nigerian Football. Erico was among the very best of Nigeria’s international goalkeepers and also served the country with fervour and diligence as Assistant Coach of the Super Eagles between 2001 and 2002. He will be sorely missed. We pray that Almighty God grant him eternal rest and also grant his family and loved ones the fortitude to bear the big loss,” NFF General Secretary, Dr Mohammed Sanusi, said in Abuja.

Nicknamed ‘Jogo Bonito’(Beautiful Game) for his preference for fluency and expression in the rhythm of play of his teams as a coach, Erico was part of the triumvirate (alongside late Amodu Shaibu and late Stephen Keshi) who were shooed in to do a rescue job for Nigeria as the ship to the 2002 FIFA World Cup finals tottered badly under Dutchman Johannes Bonfrere. With three matches left in the campaign and a must-win mandate for all, the trio got the job done and qualified Nigeria for Korea/Japan.

They also led the team to a bronze-medal finish at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Mali early 2002.

With his death on Thursday morning, it means all members of that historic triumvirate have now passed on.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

October 04, 2020

Victor Osimhen To Miss Algeria, Tunisia Friendly Ties, To Be Replaced By Onuachu

 Napoli striking sensation, Victor Osimhen will miss Nigeria's two friendly matches against Algeria and Tunisia billed to hold on October 9 and 13 respectively, Grassroot Reporters reports.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) made the announcement on its verified Twitter handle on Sunday.

Osimhen will be replaced by Genk FC of Belgium striker, Paul Onuachu. Onuachu has so far impressed at club levels, netting 7 goals in 6 starts for the club in the current season. But the big striker has for far failed to impress in the colours of Nigeria Super Eagles. Apart from a solitary goal he scored against the Pharaohs of Egypt in a friendly match, the big striker failed to score any goal in the 2019 African Nations Cup, drawing heavy criticisms from Nigerian football lovers.

The NFF said: "@victorosimhen has been excused from @NGSuperEagles games against Algeria and Tunisia. His replacement is Paul Onuachu".

Although the reason for Osimhen absence was not stated by the NFF, this may not be unconnected with the outbreak of Coronavirus.

Recall that 22 Genoa players tested positive to the virus, following the loss to Napoli last week Sunday. Although Osimhen has not tested positive to the Virus, he has undergone a test with the rest of his teammates and the coaching staff.

Napoli were banned by local authorities from travelling to Turin for the match against Juventus on health concerns after 2 players from the Turin Club tested positive to the virus, although Juventus had insisted on going on with the match.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

August 25, 2020

BREAKING: Lionel Messi Tells Barcelona He Wants To Leave

Lionel Messi has reportedly told Barcelona he wants to leave the club this summer following discussions with their new manager Ronald Koeman.
Speculation has been rife that the Argentinean star could be set to move on ever since Barca's humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

And now reports from Spain and Argentina claim that he has communicated to the club his desire for a fresh start following a turbulent season.
Fox Sports journalist Cholo Sottile tweeted on Tuesday afternoon: "Confirmed: Messi has communicated to Barcelona that he will leave."
August 25, 2020

Pelican Stars FC Of Calabar Vice Captain Quits Football For Hairdressing After 1 Year Without Pay

Chinenye Okafor
Assistant Captain of Pelican Stars Football Club of Calabar, Nigeria's most successful female team, Chinenye Okafor has quit football for hairdressing after playing for one year  for the club without pay. She took the decision in July, 2020.

The players and coaches of the club have for sometime now complained bitterly over the failure of the Cross River State Government to pay them about 14 months of salary.

They have also staged several protests over the issue but the Cross River State government is yet to yield to the demands.

She told BBC Sport Africa she feels ashamed to tell someone she's a footballer.
"I can't even tell someone that I'm a footballer because I'm ashamed that after loving football for 22 years, there is nothing to show for it.

" I'm now a hairdresser and I can see that with this, I can go on with life. I work from 8:30am to 5:30, Mondays to Saturdays. It's tough but thank God I'm making it".

She said it is quite a contrast when she was pursuing her lifelong passion of playing football yet suffering deeply because of it, as club officials simply failed to pay women's team.

Pelican Stars has won 8 leagues titles, two better than closest rivals and has produced two former African Players of the Year -Perpetua Nkwocha and Mercy Akide-Udoh.

Okafor continued:
"I sometimes cried at night because the next morning, I didn't have anything to eat. After two-three times, I made up my mind to come to Lagos- because I can't keep suffering".

Chinenye and her Pelican Stars Teammates after winning promotion back to topflight women's football.

She joined Pelican Stars in 2018 and the club was relegated in her first season. She relished the experience and lifestyle.

"Everything was going fine and I was happy that this was my breakthrough.

"The payment was coming in, management were kind but at the end of the season, we were relegated.

"We decided that as players that since we were the ones that took the team to relegation, we would take the team back to the Premier League."

They were as good as their word, bouncing back with an immediate promotion that was even celebrated at Cross River State's Government House.

But the waters were muddying.

Midway through the season, a club that regularly paid salaries - which ranged from $78-182 - to its players by the end of every month started falling behind with payments.

The first time it happened was when February's wages came in March. By June 2019, the payments simply stopped coming altogether.

Fall to earth

The Pelican Stars team have been forced to protest outside Cross River State's Government House.

Even before Covid-19 struck earlier this year, the situation had been rapidly deteriorating for Okafor and her team-mates as they held out for their delayed payments.

"Our club vice-chairman brought bags of rice and beans for us to have at home before the pandemic started," she recalled.

"It was so bad in camp that we shared food. We also got mocked by local traders because sometimes we had to buy things on credit."

A state commissioner brought more rice once coronavirus made its unwelcome entrance but Okafor's challenging existence grew intolerable after Cross River State officials continued to fund men's teams while ignoring the Stars' pleas.

"I feel that women are discriminated against. They paid the men's team, Unicem Rovers, and even the junior team, without paying us - even though our salary had been outstanding since June 2019.

"That was when I got angry. It was too much. We needed to do something for the state governor to know that something is going on."

In April this year, after ten months without pay, the Stars players held their first protest outside state headquarters.

"The security at Government House harassed us and even brought out guns, saying we should all leave the premises. They said that because of Covid, we were not supposed to be there.

"I felt embarrassed. We had a team-mate that was sick, because she hadn't had food to eat. She got a chronic ulcer and even now, I don't think she (is in a state to) play football again.

"They did not even say: 'Because of her, let us release one-two months' salaries'."

A second protest followed shortly after, whereupon the club management said all arrears would be settled by the end of April.

None ever came.

In order to feed themselves, Okafor and some team-mates started looking for other ways to make money while also having to ask others for help.

"Some of us were doing hair for a living or sewing clothes. We also had help from our family and from some fellow female professional footballers," she said.

Meanwhile, the head of Nigeria's Women's League barred Pelican Stars from playing in the league until the salaries are paid - a situation that still stands today.

From heady to head days

Chinenye Okafor dreams about being able to play football again

Ultimately, the lack of pay and regrettable living conditions eventually caused Okafor's family to step in more forcefully.

"My dad began to call me to come back home, so I left the club in July. I'm now a hairdresser in Lagos," she said.

"Nothing can be as fulfilling as playing football. to me, football makes me happy whenever I'm on the field of play

"I never saw myself hairdressing so I think I can say at the moment it is a chore.

"I am slowly getting to like it now and am even thinking of having my own salon sooner or later."
Chinenye Okafor is managing to make a living by being a hairdresser rather than a footballer

But while she concentrates on styling her clients, the bounce Okafor is after is really that of a football - whose lure is irresistible for this fighter.

"If the 2021 season starts, I will for trials with another club," she rallies. "I still do evening training after work to keep myself fit."

Okafor's former team-mates, meanwhile, have now gone 14 months without being paid, despite Cross River State's Sport Commissioner promising to pay them last week.

"I will never give up on by career because of Pelican Stars," says Okafor.

"My dream is to play for the Super Falcons of Nigeria and I know my dreams will come true one day. Football has been my joy, my life, my everything and I'll keep fighting for it."

Monday, August 24, 2020

August 24, 2020

Former Brazilian Star, Ronaldinho Released From Prison

Former Brazil and Barcelona star, Ronaldinho was released Monday by a Paraguayan judge after five months in detention over a forged passport.
Judge Gustavo Amarilla also released Ronaldinho’s brother Roberto de Assis Moreira, who had been held for a month in jail and another four months under house arrest in a hotel in Paraguay’s capital Asuncion for the same charge.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

August 12, 2020

Pelican Stars Football Club Of Calabar Protests 14 Months Unpaid Salaries

 Players and coaches of Pelican Stars Football Club of Calabar, today, August 12, protested 14 months of unpaid salaries by the Cross River State Government.

Pelican Stars FC has produced some of Nigeria's best female footballers, such as Pepertua Nkwocha, Mercy Akide etc.

The club has for sometime now, cried out over poor funding of the club and non-payment of players' salaries.

The protest which took place at the front gate of Governor's Office, Calabar, saw the players carring placards with various  inscriptions such as: "Fourteen Months Unpaid Salaries", "We are the bread winner of our family, Digital Father".

Friday, July 24, 2020

July 24, 2020

BREAKING: New English Premier League Season (2020/2021) To Start In September

The English Premier League has announced that the 2020/2021 season will start on Saturday, September 12 and run until May 23, 2021.

Also, the EFL has confirmed that the Championship, League o
one and League Two seasons will commence on the same weekend, with their regular seasons ending on the weekend of May 8, 2021.

The playoff finals will take place over the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of May.

The announcements mean that the season will begin behind closed doors since spectators are to return to venues on a socially a distanced basis on October 1.

This was contained in a statement by the Premier League which reads in part:

"Premier League shareholders today agreed to start the 2020/2021 Premier League Season on September 12, 2020.

"The final match round of the campaign will take place on 23 May.

The current Premier League season ends on Sunday while the FA Cup final takes place Saturday, August 1.

Liverpool are the newly crowned champions of the EPL, their first in three decades.

Friday, July 17, 2020

July 17, 2020

Real Madrid Wins 34th La Liga Title As Barcelona Fumbles At Home

Real Madrid on Thursday night, won a record 34th La Liga title.

Zinedine Zidane said sealing a first La Liga title with Real Madrid in three years has made him happier than winning the Champions League.

Real wrapped up the title with a game to spare as they edged past Villarreal at an empty Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium.

Karim Benzema fired between the legs of Sergio Asenjo and added a controversial second from a retaken penalty.

In bizarre fashion, Sergio Ramos had rolled the first attempt for Benzema to smash in but the effort was disallowed.

Vicente Iborra pulled one back but it mattered little to Real as the club wrapped up their 34th Spanish title.

Zidane's side have won all 10 of their matches since Spanish football restarted in June.

They head into the final day of the season with an unassailable seven-point lead over second-placed Barcelona.

"This is better than anything. It takes a tremendous effort to win La Liga," said the Real Madrid boss.

"After 38 matches, you have more points than anyone else. After lockdown and everything, it's astonishing.".

Behind closed doors in a 6,000-seat stadium at the club's training complex is perhaps not the stage for the grand crowning Real would have imagined for their first title since 2017.

But that did not stop Zidane's squad pulling on shirts with "Campeones 34" printed on the back before lifting the trophy in celebration as ticker tape fell over the pitch.

"Today is one of the best days for me as a professional," said Zidane. "After everything that happened, the three-month break, it is fantastic what has been achieved."

La Liga titles have been in shorter supply than Champions League triumphs for Real this decade, with this only their third in the past nine seasons.

They won three successive European Cups in Zidane's first tenure but had recorded successive third-place finishes since their previous domestic title, as Barcelona were crowned champions.

Zidane was in charge the last time they won the league and made it his aim to reclaim the title after returning midway through the last campaign - less than a year after his departure.

It looked as if the Frenchman's side would fail to deliver on that objective when football in Spain was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic in March, with Barcelona top of the table.

But Real have been in scintillating form since the restart and did not look like losing after Benzema's opener on Thursday. His second from the spot put the game beyond Villarreal's reach, despite a nervy final few minutes.

In the end, Barcelona's defeat by Osasuna made the victory a little more comfortable but no less significant for Zidane, who was hoisted into the air by his players.

Real's title-winning moment looked like set to be relatively straightforward. Step forward Sergio Ramos.

The defender was brought down as he entered the Villarreal box after a marauding run and, after a VAR check, put the ball down on the spot.

The Los Blancos captain has netted 10 times in La Liga this season but, rather than go for his 11th, dummied to strike the ball and instead rolled it to his right for the onrushing Benzema.

The forward fired past an unsuspecting Asenjo, only to for referee Alejandro Hernandez to blow his whistle for infringement - presumably by Benzema.

Real were given the option to take the penalty again and this time Benzema converted to make it 2-0.

Iborra then headed in seven minutes from time before substitute Marco Asensio thought he had re-established Real's lead, but Benzema had handled in the build-up.

"It has been a strange season but our objective was very clear once the league restarted," said Ramos afterwards.

"We wanted to win every game. This is the reward for all our hard work. 34 leagues, my fifth title.

"Zidane has been key, he is the captain of the ship and led us from the start of the season - we have always felt protected with Zizou. He is a unique coach."
'La Liga makes me happier'

Zidane's focus will now switch to Champions League opponents Manchester City. The La Liga champions travel to Etihad Stadium on 7 August trailing 2-1 from the first leg.

But not until he has savoured the second league win of his managerial career.

"The Champions League is the Champions League but La Liga makes me happier, because La Liga is what it's all about," said Zidane.

"This is a tremendous feeling because what these players have done is incredible. I am lost for words because I am too emotional.

"The players are the ones who have fought for this. It's true I've played my role but they are the ones who believe in what they are doing."

Real have been playing at their reserve stadium while the Santiago Bernabeu is renovated and will not be doing their usual open-top bus parade to the Cibeles fountain in the centre of Madrid because of current safety concerns.

"It's strange for everybody, we would have liked to have been with our fans at Cibeles but it's not meant to be," added Zidane.

"But I'm sure everyone is happy in their homes tonight. The fans always love to see the team win and we've done this for them."

Saturday, July 4, 2020

July 04, 2020

Big Blow For Manchester United As Fernandes And Pogba Injured During Training

Manchester United have been plunged into a potential crisis after Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes were both injured in a training ground collision.

The two midfielders are doubtful for Saturday's game with Bournemouth at Old Trafford and face being sidelined as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer chases a top-four finish and glory in both the Europa League and FA Cup.

The accidental clash occurred when Pogba ran into his team-mate as Solskjaer put his squad through their paces at Carrington.
Both men were taken away for treatment – with Fernandes appearing to come off worse.
United refused to comment on a situation that could affect Solskjaer's selection with the game against the relegation-threatened Cherries less than 24 hours away.

It's a blow that could not have come at a worse time for the Reds with big games coming thick and fast.