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2019/2020 NPFL: Warri Wolves hold Pillars in Kano

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‎ Kano Pillars Football Club and visiting Warri Wolves FC on Sunday drew 1-1 in a week 12 match of the 2019/2020 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the match ‎which was played at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano was watched by a large number of spectators as usual.

Kano Pillars opened scoring in the 6th minute through Auwalu Malam, with the visitors surprising the hosts thereafter with good resilience.

The visitors’ efforts however paid off in the game’s stoppage time when Charles Atsimene scored with a solo a good effort. ‎

‎Speaking after the game, Kano Pillars’ coach Ibrahim Musa said the match was a difficult one for his team, and praised his players for fighting relentlessly.

He however acknowledged that it was painful for them to concede a last-minute goal.

“We lost many goal scoring chances and it is unfortunate that we did not clinically conclude this match.’’

(Edited by: Olawale Alabi)

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Bundesliga: Augsburg win as coach returns from toothpaste ban, RB Leipzig go third

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Augsburg won 3-0 at sliding Schalke 04 in the Bundesliga on Sunday as coach Heiko Herrlich made a victorious debut in the dugout.

Herrlich was making his debut after a trip to buy toothpaste ruled him out of last weekend’s game.

RB Leipzig also got back to winning ways after three draws with a rampant 5-0 win at strugglers Mainz.

They moved back up to third in the table and thereby reignited their outside title hopes.

Timo Werner scored another hat-trick against Mainz to help send RB Leipzig seven points behind leaders Bayern Munich with seven games left this term.

Mainz are 15th and now three points above Fortuna Dusseldorf, who occupy the relegation play-off spot.

They could have closed the gap by more but for two late Cologne goals in a 2-2 draw at their derby rivals in the late game.

Dusseldorf’s Kenan Karaman netted with a deflected strike in the first half with Erik Thommy making it two shortly after Mark Uth’s weak penalty kick for Cologne was easily saved.

Cologne, who included Ismail Jakobs in the starting line-up after he recovered from Covid-19, stormed back through Anthony Modeste (88th minute) and Jhon Cordoba (90th min.).

At Schalke 04, a free-kick by Eduard Loewen and goals from Noah Sarenren Bazee and Sergio Cordova ended a run of six games without a win for 12th-placed Augsburg.

The hosts, who are in eighth position, failed to win for a ninth league match.

Schalke 04’s UEFA Europa League hopes took a knock after another dreadful display as both sides played their second game since a two-month coronavirus suspension.

Herrlich, appointed in March, took charge of an Augsburg match for the first time having sat out the 2-1 home defeat by Wolfsburg after breaking quarantine by going out to purchase toothpaste.

“It was a strange feeling in an empty stadium,” Herrlich told a news conference. “There is nothing to celebrate yet. We have achieved the turnaround. Now we have to push on.”

After a minute’s silence for victims of the pandemic, Augsburg kicked off opposite a familiar face.

On-loan Michael Gregoritsch led the line for Schalke 04 against his parent club, but he failed to shine.

Schalke 04 goalkeeper Markus Schubert was again preferred to Bayern Munich-bound Alexander Nuebel in spite of a shaky showing in last weekend’s 4-0 loss at derby rivals Borussia Dortmund.

He could do little about Loewen’s curling sixth minute free-kick, getting a fingertip to the ball as it flew in.

Schalke 04, who also lost Suat Serdar to a leg injury, huffed and puffed for a leveller but never came especially close.

Poor defending then allowed Sarenren Bazee to score his first Bundesliga goal with a crisp finish after a counter-attack on 76 minutes.

Cordova took advantage of more bad play in the backline to make it 3-0 in stoppage time.

“We expected something very different. I think we showed a reaction to the Borussia Dortmund defeat. But then there were individual mistakes,” said Schalke 04 captain Daniel Caligiuri.

After a great start to the season, RB Leipzig had looked far from title challengers immediately before and after the coronavirus hiatus.

But they quickly burst back to form against a hapless Mainz.

Werner slightly scuffed home Konrad Laimer’s pass on 11 minutes.

Yussuf Poulsen then headed in Marcel Sabitzer’s cross and Sabitzer got on the scoresheet himself from Poulsen’s lay-off on 36 minutes.

It was more of the same early in the second half with Germany forward Werner tapping in after a well-worked move.

He then hooked in a career-high 24th league goal of the season to match his triple from the 8-0 win in the home game against Mainz in November.

All Bundesliga games until the end of the season will be without fans to try to limit infection.

On Saturday, leaders Bayern Munich beat Eintracht Frankfurt 5-2 and second-placed Borussia Dortmund prevailed 2-0 at Wolfsburg ahead of the title-chasing duo meeting in Dortmund on Tuesday.
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Werner hailed for his dynamism after hat-trick helps to crush Mainz

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Timo Werner is becoming a more complete player and is now tougher to defend against, RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann said on Sunday.

His coments came after the forward’s hat-trick in a 5-0 romp at Mainz.

It was the 24-year-old Germany forward’s second hat-trick in a row against Mainz, having also netted a treble in an 8-0 home win in November.

His 24 goals in the Bundesliga this season are his highest tally, following the 21 he scored in the 2016/2017 campaign.

“Timo Werner now feels comfortable not only on the wing but also in the number 10 position.

“Coupled with his speed, this makes him more dynamic and even harder to mark for his opponents,” Nagelsmann told a news conference after Werner’s third league hat-trick of the season.

Werner has a contract with RB Leipzig until 2023, but media reports say he can leave for 60 million euros (65.8 million dollars) in the next window.

Bayern Munich were interested in him last year but a deal never materialized, as the German champions turned their focus to Germany winger Leroy Sane of Manchester City.

English Premier League leaders Liverpool and Chelsea are among European clubs also said to be after him, and Werner said this month that a move abroad was more likely.

RB Leipzig, who moved back up to third with the thumping win over Mainz, still think they can keep him.

He impressed in the UEFA Champions League last 16 win over Tottenham Hotspur as the Red Bulls made the quarter-finals for the first time.

They now look well-placed to return to Europe’s top competition next season having got over three draws in a row.

“We played very well from the first minute and kept the pressure on the whole game,” Werner said.

“We wanted to secure the important three points —- which helps for UEFA Champions League qualification next season,” Werner added, seemingly playing down the chances of a late title charge with leaders Bayern Munich seven points ahead with seven games left.
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Lyon president says French League’s halt to Ligue 1 was “stupid’’

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Olympique Lyonnais president Jean-Michel Aulas again lashed out at the French League for ending the Ligue 1 football season early amid the COVID-19, calling the decision “stupid”.

Aulas spoke after La Liga on Saturday got the Spanish government’s green light to resume play.

Matches will likely begin on June 12, according to League president Javier Tebas.

“In the past two months, the Spanish officials have been observing and working with UEFA,” Aulas said on Sunday, referring to European football’s governing body.

“What is paradoxical is that Javier Tebas, in particular, attended the same meetings than (French League director-general) Didier Quillot, notably that of April 23.

“In fact, what was said at that meeting with UEFA is `patience’. When we see that our officials attended this meeting and drew different conclusions, one can feel that we are really too stupid.”

The French League ended the Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 seasons last month with 10 games remaining, meaning that seventh-placed Lyon were denied a European spot through the league standings.

Lyon’s appeal before an administrative tribunal was rejected on Friday, but they are now expected to lodge another appeal before the State Council, France’s highest court, alongside relegated Amiens and Toulouse.

Asked if he would have had the same reaction had Lyon been in a position to qualify for the UEFA Champions League when Ligue 1 was suspended in March, Aulas said: “I swear I would have, I swear on my children’s lives.”

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Bournemouth player one of two more coronavirus positive tests in EPL

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English Premier League (EPL) clubside Bournemouth confirmed on Sunday that one of their players is among the two latest people across the league to test positive for the coronavirus.

In a statement, Bournemouth said the player would now self-isolate for seven days, as per the protocols.

Six people across three clubs including at least one player from Watford tested positive for the virus in the first round of tests.

In a statement on its website, the Premier League said the two positive tests came from a round of 996 tests across all 20 clubs, with each club increasing their tests from 40 to 50.

“The Premier League can today confirm that on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 22 May, 996 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. Of these, two have tested positive from two clubs,” the Premier League said.

A third round of tests will take place at the 20 clubs on Monday and Tuesday.

The Premier League is still hoping to resume the season in June.
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German league second-tier clubside open stadium complex for school exams

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Second division Greuther Fuerth said on Sunday they are opening their stadium facilities for schools to hold their final exams there to adhere to social distancing rules amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The club said pupils from partner schools could write the exams in “class rooms’’ in the main stand area.

Several schools have said they would make use of the offer over the next weeks.

“We have heard from various schools that the measures currently required present challenges for them. We thought about how we can help.

“After we developed a hygiene concept and it was approved, we could now make this free offer, and it is nice to see that we can help some in this way,” managing director Holger Schwiewagner said.
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Eagles’ striker, Osimhen loses dad

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Super Eagles forward Victor Osimhen has lost his father.

The Lille striker made the disclosure on his twitter handle: @victorosimhen9 on Sunday.

RIP Dad. No words to describe this feeling,” he tweeted.

The 21-year-old ended  the 2019/2020 Ligue 1 season as top scorer in Christophe Galtier’s team, contributing 13 goals and four assists in 27 games as they finished fourth on the league table.

Osimhen also won the Under 17 World Cup in 2015 and the African Under 23 Cup of Nations the same year.

With the Super Eagles, he claimed a bronze medal at the 2019 African Cup of Nations.

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Indian government to decide IPL’s fate, not cricket board —– Minister

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India’s sports minister Kiren Rijiju on Sunday said any decision to allow the Indian Premier League (IPL) to go ahead this year would be taken by the government.

Rijiju said the Indian cricket board (BCCI) would not be given the pleasure of taking that decision, which would be based on how well the country has contained the novel coronavirus.

The minister said the IPL would go ahead only if there was no risk to public health.

“In India the government has to take a call and it will be depending on the situation of the pandemic, how we progress as a nation,” Rijiju said.

“We can’t put health of the nation at risk just because we want sports events to be held. Our focus is fighting COVID-19.”

The BCCI, the richest cricket body in the world, had said it would consider staging the lucrative IPL in October/November if the T20 World Cup did not go ahead.

The T20 World Cup is scheduled to take place in Australia during those months.

The IPL is worth almost 530 million dollars to the BCCI and attracts the best international and Indian cricketers.

It was scheduled to start at the end of March but was indefinitely postponed because of the pandemic.

India has reported 131,868 infections from the new coronavirus, with 3,867 deaths.
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English Premier League records 2 more positive coronavirus tests

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Two people from two English Premier League (EPL) clubs have tested positive for the coronavirus after a second batch of testing, the Premier League said on Saturday.

Since the players returned to limited group training on Tuesday, eight positive tests for the virus have been confirmed from England’s top flight clubs.

“The Premier League can today (Saturday) confirm that on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 996 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. Of these, two have tested positive from two clubs,” the league said in a statement.

“The Premier League is providing this aggregated information for the purposes of competition integrity and transparency.

“Players or club staff who have tested positive will now self-isolate for a period of seven days.”

The Premier League said it would not be providing details of the identities of the two new positive tests.

A total of 748 tests of players and club staff made up the initial round of testing on Sunday and Monday.

Watford’s Adrian Mariappa and two members of the club’s non-playing staff and Burnley assistant manager Ian Woan were among six positive tests.

They are all still in their seven-day isolation period.

Two other Watford players are also self-isolating after coming into close contact with people who tested positive, according to manager Nigel Pearson.

No matches have been played in the Premier League since March, but the government has given the green light for elite sports to resume from June 1, including top flight football.

The Premier League’s “Project Restart” hopes to resume action in June, although no date has been fixed.

Another round of tests are scheduled to take place on Monday and Tuesday.

All 20 clubs will hold a meeting on Wednesday to decide whether they can move to phase two of the restart and allow full contact training.

Chief executive Richard Masters said on Friday the Premier League is “as confident as we can be” about a resumption of the top flight.

He added that the remaining 92 games would be completed.

“We wouldn’t have taken the first step to get back to training if we weren’t convinced we had created a very safe environment for our players,” he said.

Britain’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic is the highest in Europe with an official figure of 36,675 as of Saturday.

Germany’s Bundesliga returned to action last week with matches in empty stadiums and strict safety protocols.

Spain’s government on Saturday gave the go-ahead for La Liga to resume from June 8.
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Bayern Munich cruise past Eintracht Frankfurt to stay on title track

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Bayern Munich beat Eintracht Frankfurt 5-2 on Saturday, surviving a brief second-half comeback scare.

Victory helped the defending champions to stay four points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga with seven games left to play.

The Bavarians thought they had the match wrapped up after efforts from Leon Goretzka, Thomas Mueller and Robert Lewandowski had given them a 3-0 lead in the empty Allianz Arena.

Eintracht Frankfurt defender Martin Hinteregger caught the Bayern defence napping to strike twice in three minutes and inject new life into the encounter.

Yet, the visitors then quickly gave away two goals —- with Alphonso Davies pouncing on a defensive error on the hour and Hinteregger scoring an own goal in the 74th minute.

Bayern Munich are on 61 points with Borussia Dortmund, who host the Bavarians on Tuesday, on 57 following their 2-0 win over VfL Wolfsburg.

The Bundesliga resumed last week, with no fans in attendance, after being suspended for more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Dortmund ease past Wolfsburg 2-0 to stay in title hunt

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Borussia Dortmund scored a goal in each half through Raphael Guerreiro and Achraf Hakimi to beat hosts VfL Wolfsburg 2-0 on Saturday for their sixth straight Bundesliga win to stay on the heels of leaders Bayern Munich.

Portugal international, Guerreiro tapped in a cutback from Thorgan Hazard after Erling Haaland had failed to connect in the 32nd minute and Hakimi fired in from a fine Jadon Sancho assist — his 16th of the season — in the 78th to make sure of the three points.

The result lifted second-placed Dortmund to 57 points, four behind leaders Bayern, who beat Eintracht Frankfurt 5-2.

The Bundesliga resumed last week, with no fans in attendance, after being suspended for more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dortmund central defender, Mats Hummels, was taken off at halftime with a knock on the leg, although he did not appear to be seriously injured.

They are already missing injured Dan Axel Zagadou and Captain Marco Reus.

“I briefly spoke to the doctor,’’ Dortmund’s Sports Director, Michael Zorc, said.

“Mats had problems with his heel.

“He has had them in training for some time.

“We hope that he will be able to play on Tuesday.’’

The Wolves only briefly got a look-in when Renato Steffen was sent through right after the restart.

But with the only keeper, Roman Buerki, to beat his shot glanced the bar and sailed high.

They have now lost five consecutive home games to Dortmund, the first team to do that at Wolfsburg, while Dortmund have not conceded a goal in their two games since the league restart.

Wolfsburg, who suffered their first defeat in eight league games, were left with 10 men when substitute, Felix Klaus, was sent off with 10 minutes remaining for a rough challenge.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Sports won’t be the same after COVID-19, Paralympic gold medalist Ejike says

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Lucy Ejike, 61kg gold medalist at the Rio Paralympics Games, on Saturday said sports activities may take a new turn from what athletes and fans usually experience after the coronavirus pandemic.

Ejike told the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja that “the sports sector will have to adjust to the new procedures and it will take time for people to do so.

She added that sports would after the lockdown need a long time before it could go back to what it used to be.

“There is likely to be a change in how sports is usually being played and experienced by the spectators,” Ejike said.

The mother of two, who said she had engaged in indoor exercises to keep fit, said she was eager for sports to return. “I can’t wait to get back to the field.’’

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La Liga gets Spanish govt’s green light to resume from June 8

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Spanish football’s top flight division La Liga can return to action from June 8 after being disrupted by the novel coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Saturday.

All organised football in Spain was provisionally suspended on March 12, although clubs in the top two divisions have since returned to group training.

La Liga has yet to officially confirm a resumption date, although its president Javier Tebas had said previously he hoped the season could do so from June 12.

“We are very happy with the decision, but it is the result of the great work of clubs, players, coaches… CSD (National Sports Council) and agents involved,” Tebas said on Twitter.

“But it is very important to follow the health rules and that the evolution of the pandemic respects us. We cannot let our guards down.”

Germany’s Bundesliga became the first major European football league to resume on May 16, with matches played without fans.

Players in the English Premier League have returned to small group training with their clubs ahead of a possible resumption in June, although nothing has so far been agreed.

The Italian government will decide on May 28 if and when the Serie A season can resume.

The French season was called off by the government, and Paris St-Germain (PSG) were crowned champions.

La Liga was suspended with 11 rounds of fixtures still to be completed.

FC Barcelona lead the table, two points above Real Madrid, with Sevilla 11 points back in third-place.

In his address on Saturday, Sanchez said that “new horizons” could now open after Spain “has done what it needed to do.”

Spanish football has a huge following, but it will not be the only recreation activity that will return,” he said.

Spain is one of the countries worst-affected by the coronavirus outbreak, with more than 28,000 deaths and more than 234,000 cases of infection diagnosed.

The daily death toll has been steadily declining, with 56 deaths registered on Friday.

Spain has also begun to relax one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns.

Already, the provinces of Madrid and Barcelona are set to allow gatherings of up to 10 people from Monday as they move into the first phase of a de-escalation.
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Queensland govt. halts work on 2032 Olympics bid to deal with COVID-19

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Senior international Olympic official John Coates said on Saturday he supports a decision by Queensland’s state government to postpone work on its bid for the 2032 Games while they focus on the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Queensland Premier Annastascia Palaszczuk had confirmed the decision to postpone their work on the bid in a letter to the state parliament on Friday, The Australian newspaper reported.

“As Queensland’s and Australia’s focus has been placed on responding to coronavirus (the candidature leadership group) agreed that the 2032 Games candidature discussions be put on hold until further notice,” Palaszczuk wrote.

Coates, who is also the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President, said everyone understood there were pressing issues of public health and community wellbeing for governments to address.

“The candidature will have its role to play in terms of jobs and growth in the Queensland economy once we have seen our way through the current crisis,” he said in a statement.

Coates added the AOC had recommended in late March that it defer any meetings with all levels of government about the bid as they dealt with the pandemic.

Australia has hosted the Summer Olympics twice, in Melbourne in 1956 and Sydney in 2000. The Queensland bid would be centred on the state’s largest city, Brisbane.

Coates, who is head of the International Olympic Committee’s inspectorate for Tokyo, warned earlier this week that Japanese organisers faced “real problems” hosting the postponed 2020 Games next year due to the coronavirus.

Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Felix Ajide (NAN)

 

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Former Spurs boss Pochettino open to Premier League return

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Former Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino said he was open to coaching again in England’s Premier League.

According to him, he will make a decision on his future based on the kind of project put to him by any potential employer, whether in the top six or not.

The Argentine took Spurs to the Champions League final last year but his side were beaten 2-0 by Liverpool.

He was sacked in November, ending a successful but ultimately trophy-less 5-1/2 years in charge of the club.

Reports in the British media have said the 48-year-old is among the top contenders to replace Steve Bruce at Newcastle United if a proposed Saudi-backed takeover of the club goes through.

“I love England,” Pochettino told Sky Sports. “My idea is to keep living in London, but at the same time I’m open to different countries, to listen and see what happens.

“I’m ready and we’re a much better coaching staff now. We’ve learnt a lot from our experiences at Espanyol, Southampton and Tottenham.

“We have a lot to provide to the people that will trust in us in the future,” he said of himself and assistant coach Jesus Perez, goalkeeping coach Toni Jimenez and others he has brought with him from previous clubs.

Pochettino said the status of his next club was not as important as their plans.

“There are two things that are important — one is… the fans that are behind every club,” Pochettino said.

“That’s the structure that keeps alive all the companies that provide the entertainment that is football.

“The other is the ideas of the clubs. Every club and company have different cultures, philosophies, ways of working. They all have different plans for success.

“To be successful at one club you need to win the Champions League or Premier League, but for others it’s to finish in the top four or six.”

Pochettino suggested he was also open to taking over at a club outside England’s top six.

“The problem is which clubs are top six? The top six always changes. Tottenham is not in the top six, Arsenal is not in the top six,” Pochettino said.

“You need to respect all the clubs. All the clubs are working so hard and investing money… I don’t think you can underestimate any club.”

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Fury hopes to ‘give fans what they want’ with Joshua showdown

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Tyson Fury said he was eager to give British boxing fans what they want by fighting Anthony Joshua for the undisputed world heavyweight title, but said the duo must focus on their immediate opponents to make such a match happen.

Fury won the WBC title in Las Vegas three months ago with a seventh-round stoppage of Deontay Wilder.

Joshua defeated Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr in a December rematch in Saudi Arabia to reclaim his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles.

Joshua’s next fight is with mandatory IBF challenger Kubrat Pulev, but their bout, scheduled for June 20, was postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Fury will take on Wilder in a rematch later this year.

“If I get knocked out by Wilder, then it won’t be on, will it?

“It’ll be another fight with Wilder… If he loses to Pulev, so close, but so far.

“In heavyweight boxing, you can never count your chickens before they hatch, so one fight at a time, one victory at a time,” Fury told Sky Sports.

Fury said a meeting with Joshua had the potential to be the biggest match since Britons Lennox Lewis and Frank Bruno fought in 1993.

“All going well, God willing, we get on the big fight with me and Joshua, the all-British showdown, and I can give the fans what they want to see, especially the British fans,” he promised.

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South Africa plan for resumption by isolating players in bio-bubble

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Cricket South Africa (CSA) plan to isolate players and support staff in a “bio-bubble” to minimise their exposure to COVID-19 and hasten a return to play.

CSA has studied the best practises used by the German Bundesliga, which resumed last weekend, and hope to implement them when India are scheduled to visit for three lucrative Twenty20 Internationals in late August.

But the tour remains in doubt as government models suggest the virus could peak in South Africa during August or September.

It poses the question of how to minimise exposure for players, coaches and support staff.

Team doctor Shuaib Manjra said they had worked on a plan, having also liaised with the cricket boards in England and Australia.

“The bio-bubble would be a sanitised cricket biosphere with strict entry standards and limited movement out of this cordon,” he told reporters via a teleconference.

“This will require regular testing of all of those within the bubble.

“We want to create a sanitised cricket eco-system that will ensure we account for the entire chain of operations that are sanitised and grant protection to all role-players.

“We have drawn from our colleagues in England and Australia, and we have learned from (soccer’s) La Liga and the Bundesliga.”

Manjra said they are facing unknown risk factors, including what effect COVID-19 has on the health of infected athletes once they have recovered.

“What is the impact of intense physical activity on players infected with COVID-19 when they return to play?

“What happens when one of our players contracts COVID-19, and I have no doubt that many will.

“When are they safe to return to play and what are the (health) risks to them when they do? We need to understand this.”

All South African sports are preparing to petition government to allow them to renew activities, with the country still under a tight lockdown.

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Premier League restart will boost EFL finances: Brighton chief

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Completing the Premier League campaign and getting the new season underway will see much-needed funds flow to clubs in the lower divisions that are struggling due to the COVID-19 shutdown, Brighton & Hove Albion CEO Paul Barber has said.

Football has been suspended since mid-March due to the novel coronavirus outbreak but the Premier League hopes to restart next month, initially without fans attending after the government opened the door for elite sport to return.

EFL clubs rely much more than Premier League teams on match day revenue and ticket income and its chairman, Rick Parry had said playing games behind closed doors could actually be a loss-making venture for some teams.

“If we can finish this season, get next season under way, then all of the solidarity payments that go through the Premier League to the lower levels will hopefully give those guys a boost as well.

“It will also enable them to get through a very difficult period,” Brighton’s Barber told reporters.

Top flight teams voted to make an advance of 125 million pounds (152.68 million dollars) to the English Football League (EFL) and National League sides in April, which included early solidarity payments and parachute payments.

“There are a lot of mouths to feed and there is no easy solution other than getting the games back on as soon as we can and when it is safe,” Barber added.

“That will then start to turn the economy within football which enables us to make those distributions further down the game.”

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Danish football restart with virtual tribune and drive-in cinema

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The Danish Super League is set to restart on May 28 and clubs have been quite inventive when it comes to coping with having to play behind closed doors.

The first match, after a coronavirus-related break of two-and-a-half months, is a regional derby between Aarhus and Randers, then come the last two rounds of the regular season, followed by the championship round with the best six teams.

While the fans can’t come into the stadium in person because of ongoing restrictions, Aarhus are going digital to have them present after all.

Fans can watch the game from 22 different blocks in the stadium in a collaboration with the Zoom video platform.

Some of the fans will also appear on the big screen in the stadium so that the players benefit as well.

Club boss, Jacob Nilsen, believes that getting the fans into the stadium in this way could be copied by others.

“It appears that we will have to play without spectators for a while.

“Maybe we can inspire other clubs to have similar initiatives and that they can profit from it over the next weeks,’’ Nilsen said.

Aarhus are also having their fans fill the seats with cardboard cut-outs and they will arrange a live broadcast at a central square with fans able to watch from their cars.

Runaway leaders Midtjylland have a similar idea named “Drive In Football” – turning their stadium parking area into a drive-in cinema to allow some 10,000 fans in 2,000 vehicles to follow the team’s first match in this way.

The Super League got permission in early May to restart, which gives the Danes a head start over northern neighbours, Sweden where the top two leagues -Allsvenskan and Superettan – are still in talks with health authorities over a June 14 season start pushed back from April.

The leagues’ group SEF has provided a detailed concept and even though Sweden didn’t have as strict lockdown measures as most other countries games will also be played without fans there.

“We play without spectators, only a minimal amount of officials and media will be allowed into the stadium.

“The fans will watch the games in their home towns, on TV or in sports bars,’’ the SEF said.

But fans are gradually to be allowed back, with only every third seat occupied and the standing areas remaining closed.

However, patience is required as the nation’s top epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, told the Aftonbladet paper in mid-May that “we will let you know in early June’’.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

 
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COVID-19: Philanthropist donates palliative to boxers in Enugu

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The Enugu State Boxers Association (ESBA) on Thursday distributed food items to boxers in the state  as palliative to cushion the effect of COVID-19.

The items including bags of rice, Garri, salt, cartons of tomato paste, spices and cash, were donated by Mr Chales Ike, a board member of the association.

Ike,board, a businessman, had in time past, donated a boxing ring to boxers in the state.

Mr Ebere Amaraizu, ESBA Vice-Chairman, while distributing  the food item among the boxers in Enugu,  said the gesture would bring relief  to the boxers who had been facing untold hardships due to COVID-19 lockdown.

Amaraizu, who was a former Police Public Relation Officer (PPRO) , Police Command, Enugu said it would put boxers in the spirit of competition pending the return of normal activities.

”We believe that after the pandemic, activities will resume and this is  to ensure that the boxers were good to go for action.

”Also, it will boost their morale for competitions coming ahead, so that was why the palliative became necessary,” he said.

Amaraizu said that the boxers had been training daily with the observation of the Nigeria Council for Disease and Control (NCDC) measures on coronavirus.

Also speaking, Director for Coaching in the Enugu State Ministry of Youths and Sports, Ben Onuaguluchi, appreciated the philanthropist gesture to the boxers.

He said that what the donor did showed that he had passion for  boxing.

”The donor is magnanimity enough to have secured this food items and it shows that he has passion for the sports.

”Ike has set the pace and others need to follow suit and the authority need to put people who have passion for sports at the head of sports association,” he said.

Onuaguluchi pleaded with the state government to ensure that the athletes were called back to camp immediately after the pandemic.

He said the reason was to foster good outing at the postponed National Sports Festival (NSF) which might  likely come up once the pandemic was over.

In her response, a boxer, Modesta Agbowo, thanked the donor, Ike,  and  ESBA for remembering boxers this time of  Coronavirus pandemic

”This is not the first time you people are coming to our aid and on behalf of my colleagues, I say may God continue to enrich you all, ” she said. 

Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)

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Liverpool preparing for shorter break between seasons, Klopp says

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Liverpool are preparing for a shorter break between seasons due to the disruption to the current English Premier League (EPL) campaign caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, manager Juergen Klopp has said.

The Premier League hopes to restart the 2019/2020 season —- which usually ends in May —- next month.

With nine rounds of fixtures remaining, the season will spill over into at least July, while the 2020/2021 campaign was set to begin on Aug. 8.

“Today we started with training, good things, not the highest intensity. But the boys look in good shape,” Klopp said.

“We don’t know exactly how long we have, but we have some time to prepare the rest of this season and already the next season because I don’t think there will be a massive break between the two.

“We don’t know exactly but we should prepare for a rather shorter break between the two seasons.”

The league has set June 12 as a tentative date for a restart of action and Klopp said players would be thrust straight into action without playing friendly matches.

“It’s a pre-season for us. We don’t know how long and we will not have test games or friendlies,” he added.

Clubs are scheduled to meet next week when the league will decide on whether they can move to the next phase of training that involves contact.
OLAL

(
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)

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