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CAF Champions League: Enyimba coach confident ahead of second leg clash with Rahimo FC



The two-times African champions lost 0-1 to hosts Rahimo FC of Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou in their First Preliminary Round first leg clash on Saturday.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that Issou Zonon scored the only goal in the match’s second half to underline their early dominance and secure a vital win.

The result means the Aba giants need a 2-0 win at least to advance to the second preliminary round in September.

Abdallah told NAN however that the People’s Elephant are still very much in contention to progress to the next phase since they suffered only a slim defeat.

“It was not a good result for us, but at the same time we are not in a very difficult situation because it could have been worse if we had lost by two or three goals.

“This was just our first game in the campaign and  sometimes results can go this way, but I can assure that the second leg in Aba will be a different ball game,” he said.

Abdallah noted however that the Burkinabe side have going for them their youthfulness and agility.

“But with the first-hand knowledge we acquired from Saturday’s tie, it will now be ‘easier’ to plot their downfall in the second-leg.

“They have a young team with very good mobility and good techniques and they are very fit.

“The goal they scored was a deflection and could have been avoidable, but now we have to go back to Aba and cancel the goal and also get another one more goal to seal the deal.

“This is definitely not beyond our reach, given our pedigree. So, I am confident that we will have no problem advancing,” the coach said.

NAN reports that the second leg tie will be played at the Enyimba International Stadium in Aba on Aug. 23.


(Edited by Olawale Alabi)


LOC hails standard at Ebonyi veterans football competition



The Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the on-going Ebonyi Veterans Football competition has hailed the standard of play being displayed by participating teams.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the competition has two teams each from the three senatorial zones of the state and features players above 40 years.

Mr Emmanuel Utobo, the competition’s LOC Chairman, told NAN on Thursday that the players had exhibited high tactical and technical knowledge of the game not expected of individuals of their ages.

“The fans can attest to it that such standard has eliminated the tag of ‘novelty’ which such competition is usually associated-with.

“People were expecting to see the players going against the sport’s rules and parrying the ball for instance instead of kicking it.

“We have instead seen encouraging levels of fitness, accurate and incisive passes, and cohesive play by the teams among other positive attributes.

“This can however be attributed to the parading of ex-footballers by the teams especially former players of the defunct Ebonyi Angels Football Club (FC) and clubs across the country and abroad,” he said.

Utobo who is the Director of Sports in the state, however expressed displeasure with the low-level of conduct exhibited by some of the participating teams.

“We expected high level of maturity from the teams even after softening on the rules to accommodate their conduct.

“We are however effectively managing the situation to ensure that the competition ends successfully,” he said.

The LOC Charmian noted that such unsavory behaviour was displayed by the Ebonyi central zone’s team ‘A’ which failed to appear for its best losers decider against Ebonyi South team ‘A’.

“The match was to determine the competition’s best loser that could join the three already qualified teams for the semi finals.

“The Ebonyi central team ‘A’, however, failed to turn-up after the officials ‘graciously’ waited for about one and half hour instead of the stipulated 30 minutes,” he said.

He announced that the semi finals which were originally slated for Sunday, Dec. 8 had been postponed due to a religious programme at the Pa Ngele Oruta stadium, Abakaliki on that day.

“A new date will be announced for the semi finals and would be duly communicated to the affected teams,” he said.

Edited & Vetted By: Donald Ugwu

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FCT set for maiden ECOWAS-Abuja Int’l Marathon



No fewer than 500 international and local athletes will participate in the maiden ECOWAS-Abuja International Half Marathon scheduled to hold on Dec. 14.

Mr Francis Njoaguani, Director, ECOWAS Youth and Sports Development Centre, while addressing newsmen in Abuja on preparations, said the event is open to athletes outside West Africa.

Njoaguani said the race with the theme “Run for Unity and Integration” is being organised in partnership with the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and would see athletes win cash prizes ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.

According to him, adequate security arrangements have been made to ensure a hitch free race expected to cover about 22km.

“As ECOWAS, we don’t believe that Abuja has a problem with security; we are convinced that the Federal Government is equal to the task.

“The Minister of FCT is part of the process and we believe that they will put in place all the necessary mechanisms to ensure safety of all the athletes.

“The proof that we have today is that International athletes have already registered because as at now, we have four athletes from Ethiopia and Kenya who have indicated interest to be part of the process.

“We have also got confirmation from some Cameroonian athletes that they will be part of the event and all these are evidences that Abuja is a good enough place for the race.

“There is no difference in security situation in Nigeria compared to any other part of the world; every day we hear incidence of attack but that doesn’t stop life from going on.

“So, security agents and authority in Nigeria are fully capable of ensuring not just the safety of athletes but all other people that will come out to cheer athletes to the finishing line,” Njoaguani.

On her part, Director of Sports, FCTA, Mrs Dilichukwu Onyedinma said although the competition would involve participants outside the shores of ECOWAS member States, the sole purpose is to foster unity among members of the sub African region.

“This event is going to involve international athletes; athletes from ECOWAS countries and four athletes from East Africa.

“We also have a theme; ECOWAS is for integration and Abuja is for unity, so we came up with a theme, Run for Unity and Integration and it is important we make people realise this,” she said.

Edited & Vetted By: Ismail Abdulaziz

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UEFA president criticises VAR use, says football needs uncertainty




Nyon, Switzerland, Dec.5, 2019 Football needs uncertainty, the head of European soccer body UEFA said, as he criticised the way the Video Assistant Referee  (VAR)  technology had changed the character of football matches.

UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin during the press conference REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Aleksander Ceferin said that UEFA would propose soccer’s rulemaking IFAB make changes to the way the VAR system, officially introduced in 2018, was being implemented, though he did not want to give more details.

The use of system, where match officials use video replays to check decisions by the referee on the pitch and flag possible mistakes, has been surrounded by controversy over the last few months.

Critics say the system goes far beyond its original remit and that decisions are taking too long.

“The game is changing and we are afraid that it is changing too much,” Ceferin told reporters following a UEFA executive committee meeting, adding that the search for refereeing perfection was futile.

“Football needs uncertainty because the players make mistakes and the referees on the pitch have to take responsibility, not some people hidden in a van or a building 500 kilometres from the venue,” he said.

“I can live with the fact that referees are human beings who make mistakes but now when technology makes a mistake, that is a problem,” he said.

Ceferin said he was not against VAR in principle but said that “we have to make it clearer, we have to make it faster, we have to make it less invasive — but it will stay.”

One of the biggest sources of controversy has involved offside decisions where VAR officials use gridlines superimposed on the screen, leading to goals being disallowed because a player’s toe or armpit was offside.

“The line is very thin and it’s drawn by the VAR so it’s the subjective line of an objective fact which is a bit strange,” said Ceferin.

Other sources of confusion include the new handball rule and how far back in a move VAR officials should go when checking for infringements.

“Do we check five minutes, do we check 15 minutes?” he said. “The referee never said in the past that we had to go back to a foul seven minutes ago.”

“We still don’t know which handball is handball, who is drawing the lines, how thick the lines are…..there are many questions ahead.”

Edited & Vetted By: Emmanuel Okara/Sadiya Hamza

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Govt should encourage private sector participation in sports



Government at all levels should provide enabling environment and facilities to encourage private sector operators to go into sports for the much needed development to take place.

Chief Joseph Okeke, a former Commissioner for Youth Development and Sports in Anambra,  gave the advice in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Awka on Thursday.

“It is the duty of government at the federal, state and local levels to offer incentives in the form of patronage, waiver, etc to individuals, corporate organisations that promote sporting activities.

“Government should as well build sports facilities such as stadia, indoor sports halls, swimming pools and others at catchment locations.

“Then, motivated sports philanthropists will move to schools, towns to attract participants that are numerous, but not knowing how to start, to showcase their talents,” he said.

Okeke said that the country was losing huge resources by not producing sportsmen and women that would win laurels for us.

“Go to our primary, secondary schools, you will see a lot of budding young talents that are growing with nobody wooing them into sports.

“There are lots of benefits to be derived from being a sports person which include monetary reward, fame, scholarships and expense-free international travels which will make the fellow a household name,” he said.

Edited & Vetted By: Tajudeen Atitebi

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Rashford scores twice as United sink Mourinho’s Spurs



Jose Mourinho’s return to Old Trafford ended in defeat with Marcus Rashford scoring twice for Manchester United in a 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur.

Mourinho was sacked as United manager almost a year ago and this was his first defeat in four games since taking over from Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs last month.

United grabbed a seventh minute lead when Spurs defender Davinson Sanchez came off second best in a tussle with Jesse Lingard and the ball fell to Rashford, who confidently unleashed a low drive which rattled in off the post.

Rashford, in oustanding form, then had a dipping drive brilliantly tipped on to the bar by Spurs keeper Paulo Gazzaniga and United created a series of good openings, playing some of their best football of the season so far.

But six minutes before the break, a Serge Aurier shot was saved by the legs of David De Gea.

The ball looped high in the air and Dele Alli produced a remarkable piece of skill to bring the ball down and twist past Fred and Ashley Young before finishing with aplomb.

It took only four minutes of the second half for United to regain their advantage.

Cutting in from the left, Rashford jinked past Aurier and burst into the box only to be tripped by Moussa Sissoko, earning a penalty.

He took the spot kick himself from a short run-up and slotted home.

(Edited & Vetted By: Mufutau Ojo)

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Mbappe, Neymar on target as PSG sink Nantes



A superb Kylian Mbappe goal and a Neymar penalty helped Paris St Germain restore a five-point lead atop the Ligue 1 standings with a 2-0 home win over Nantes on Wednesday.

France striker Mbappe found the back of the net with a jaw-dropping backheel finish early in the second half and Neymar doubled the tally in the closing stages to put PSG on 36 points from 15 games.

Second-placed Marseille, who have played one game more, had narrowed the gap to two points with a 2-0 victory at Angers on Tuesday.

“It’s not easy to beat Nantes they are very compact. We tried to play fast but we lost too many balls,” said PSG midfielder Marquinhos.

Nantes dropped to ninth in the table on 23 points from 16 games.

At the Parc des Princes, Coach Thomas Tuchel left Mauro Icardi on the substitutes’ bench with Mbappe starting up front alongside Angel Di Maria and Neymar.

The Brazilian thought he had opened the scoring shortly before halftime but his effort was ruled out by the VAR because of a Julian Draxler foul in the area.

Mbappe went close four minutes into the second half but Alban Lafont parried away the France international’s powerful angled shot.

Mbappe, however, put the hosts ahead in the 52nd minute with a gorgeous backheel from Di Maria’s whipped pass after the Argentine had been played through on the right flank by Neymar.

Neymar converted a penalty six minutes from fulltime after Lafont had brought down Icardi in the area following a poor header back from defender Nicolas Pallois.

Keylor Navas made a key save to deny Pallois in stoppage time, helping secure a ninth clean sheet in nine league victories for PSG at home this season.

Elsewhere, St Etienne bounced back from their first defeat under Claude Puel with a 4-1 home victory against Nice, thanks to a Denis Bouanga double.

The win lifted Les Verts, who were second from bottom when Puel was appointed two months ago, up to fifth on 25 points.

“It was a perfect game which should boost our confidence,” said Puel, who has secured 14 points in seven games for St Etienne.

Monaco’s Wissam Ben Yedder scored an early penalty and set up Gelson Martins for the winner as they won 2-1 at bottom side Toulouse.

(Edited & Vetted By: Mufutau Ojo)

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