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Unpredictability is good for business, UEFA marketing chief says




Epstein said the unpredictable nature of the tournaments is great for business.

He said the drama and unpredictability mattered more than the presence of elite clubs in the closing stages of competitions such as the UEFA Champions League.

Ajax Amsterdam and Tottenham Hotspur reached this season’s semi-finals while Real Madrid, Paris St-Germain (PSG) and Bayern Munich all fell in the last 16 and Juventus were eliminated in the quarter-finals.

Yet access to the UEFA Champions League for clubs such as Ajax could effectively be closed off from 2024.

This is under a proposal by UEFA and the European Club Association, according to league officials who have seen it.

According to reports about the new proposal, 24 of the 32 teams in the UEFA Champions League group stage would keep their places for the following season.

Four will qualify through the domestic leagues, while another four will be promoted from the Europa League.

Such a plan would make it more difficult for teams such as Ajax to get their foot in the door.

UEFA have said only that discussions are at an early stage, without giving details.

Epstein, without commenting on the proposal, said that this year’s drama had made the competition better than ever for sponsors and broadcasters.

Asked if two mid-sized teams meeting in the final would damage the brand, he said: “I don’t think so, because that would be earned on the pitch.

“As long as there is this meritocracy, I don’t think it damages the product at all.”

“Tottenham against Ajax is a good example of clubs considered smaller compared to the big brands,” he added.

“I find it fantastic and I believe it adds to unpredictability, it adds to the newcomer story. It’s great in my view, it makes the UEFA Champions League even better.”

Tottenham came back from the dead to beat Ajax — who had previously eliminated Real Madrid and Juventus — on away goals in their semi-final.

They had trailed 0-3 on aggregate with 45 minutes left.

In the other semi-final, Liverpool came back from a 3-0 defeat in the first leg to beat FC Barcelona 4-0 in the return.

Liverpool and Tottenham meet in the final in Madrid on June 1.

“This season has been mad, full of dramatic situations and, in spite of the fact that you don’t have Real Madrid, FC Barcelona or whoever, people are looking forward to (the final match) because what these teams have achieved is brilliant,” he said.


(Edited by Olawale Alabi)


Tunisia part company with coach Giresse after African Cup of Nations



Alain Giresse has left his job as coach of Tunisia, after nine months and having guided them to the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in July.

The former France international’s departure was announced by the Tunisian Football Federation on Wednesday, who said in a brief statement that it was a mutual decision.

Giresse was appointed in December and helped them reach the last four in Egypt in spite of winning just one match at the tournament outside of a penalty shootout.

They drew their three group games and needed a shootout to get past Ghana in the last 16 before beating Madagascar 3-0 in their quarter-final game.

They lost to Senegal in the semi-finals after extra time and were also defeated by Nigeria in the third-place playoff.

It was the fifth time the Frenchman has coached a country at the AFCON after he led Gabon (2010), Mali (2012), Senegal (2015) and Mali again two years ago.

The 67-year-old has also coached at club level in Morocco, after two spells with Toulouse and a brief tenure in charge at Paris St Germain (PSG)

Giresse’s departure means 13 of the 24 coaches from last month’s tournament have left their jobs.(Reuters/NAN)


(Edited by Olawale Alabi)

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Taekwondo gives Nigeria first 12th African Games medals with 1 gold, 2 bronze



Team Nigeria’s taekwondo athletes on Wednesday in Rabat helped the contingent  to be placed on the 12th African Games’ medals table with one gold and two bronze medals.

Chinazum Nwosu won the gold medal in the female -53kg event, while Sunday Onofe and Okuomose Benjamin won the bronze medals in the male -87kg and +87kg events respectively.

Nwosu had drawn bye in the preliminary round, while she beat Halidou Balkissa of Republic of Niger 23-9 in the quarter-finals and Tsebaot Fikadu of Ethiopia 14-10 in the semi-finals.

She went on to beat Morocco’s Oumaima El Bouchti 26-22 in the final.

On his part, Onofe beat Congo DR’s Esende Chadrack 25-05 in the preliminary round and Fredric Adoua of Chad 15-5 in the quarter-finals.

He however lost to eventual gold medalist Seydou Gbane of Cote d’Ivoire 15-12 in the semi-final.

Benjamin also drew bye in the preliminaries, beat Senegal’s Laye Seye 40-37 in the quarter-finals and lost to Niger’s Alfaga Abdul Razak 32-10 in the semi-finals.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the taekwondo competition will end on Friday.

Edited by Saidu Adamu/Obike Ukoh

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African Games: Nigeria’s male beach volleyballers beat Ghanaian foes to place 7th



Nigeria on Wednesday in Rabat beat their Ghanaian opponents 2-1 to finish seventh in the men’s beach volleyball event at the 12th African Games in Morocco.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the Nigerian pair beat the Ghanaian pair of Kelvin Carbon and Samuel Essilfie.

Anyasodike and Sam had failed to make hay against the pair of Edson Figueiredo and Eden Sequeira on Tuesday in the first game of the fixture, losing 13-21 8-21.

This was after they lost 0-2 to the South African pair of Grant Goldschmidt and Leo Williams in the quarter-finals.

They had qualified for the quarter-finals on Saturday in spite of losing 1-2 to the Mozambican pair of Nguvo and Soares in their final Group B Match.

On Friday, they had beaten the pair of Alfred and Doobraz of Mauritius 2-0 and on Saturday the pair of Abdelnaeim and Shahin of Egypt 2-1.


(Editing by Peter Ejiofor)

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Plateau United sign 12 new players to strengthen squad



The club in a statement by its Media Officer, Albert Dakup, said that the new players were to replace those released from the club at the end of last season.

It said that the newly-recruited players include three attackers, five midfielders, two defenders and two goalkeepers.

“The new players participated in a two-week rigorous training session and three pre-season friendly matches in order to ascertain their fitness level before the signed their contract.

“Prominent among the newly-recruited players are: former Katsina United and Enyimba of Aba striker Chinedu Udechukwu and Sunday Anthony a midfielder from the relegated Elkanemi  Warriors of Maiduguri.

“Others are: goalkeeper Anozie Awawa, Ikefe Andrew, Buhari Ibrahim, Paul Uche, Emeka Nnaji, Umar Abba, Isa Ndala and Nenrot Silas.

“Among the 12 new players are: Bola Bamigbelu who is joining from a club in Cyprus and goalkeeper Godfrey Amooh from Ghana while Tosin Omoyele who is returning from Egypt after completing a six-month loan,” it added.

According to the statement, the team is expected to continue with preparations for the new season.

The team is also scheduled to feature in the famous annual pre-season tournament renamed the Taiwo Ogunjobi Cup in Ilorin on Aug. 29.

Edited by Gregg Mmaduakolam and Abdullahi Yusuf

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Osun ‘ll perform better at 2019 National Youth Games- Sports Director



Layi Adesiyan, the Director of Youths, Sports and Special Needs in Osun, on Wednesday said the state would perform better at the 2019 National Youth Games (NYG) in Ilorin, Kwara.

Adesiyan told the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja that the state team`s performance would surpass that of the 2018 NYG.

NAN reports that the 2019 NYG will hold from Sept. 7 to Sept. 17 at the University of Ilorin.

He said the state team could not participate in the zonal elimination in Ibadan for the South-West states due to paucity of funds.

The director said that the team had been training and working hard to be among the best in this year`s edition.

He, however, assured that the team would definitely participate in the game in Ilorin.

“Our athletes have been in the camp preparing for the competition; they will give their best to make the state proud in all the events they will feature.

“They will surpass their previous position in the last edition of the NYG in Ilorin.

“We finished seventh last year; we will work hard to be among the best three in this year edition.

“We will register athletes that will represent the state before the end of August in Abuja.

“Our athletes are determined to have a good performance to make the state proud,’’ he said

Adesiyan said the state Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, would give them the necessary support to represent the state well.

NAN reports that the state came seventh with seven Gold, eight Silver and seven Bronze medals.

Edited by Joseph Edeh/Olagoke Olatoye

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