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Levante keeper Fernandez excused from election day duty

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Levante goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez has been cleared to play in Sunday’s La Liga game at Athletic Bilbao after being excused from working at a polling station in Spain’s parliamentary election on the same day.

“Good news. The electoral commission has excused our goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez from being a reserve at the Mondragon polling station.

” We’ll see you at San Mames,” Levante tweeted on Saturday.

Fernandez, who is from the Basque town of Mondragon, had been drafted onto a list of reserves who are required to attend the polling station on the morning of the election to see whether their presence is required.

Levante’s preparations for the game at San Mames had been thrown into chaos as second-choice keeper Oier Olazabal is injured.

However, Fernandez will now be able to turn out for his side, who beat champions Barcelona 3-1 last week.

All Spaniards on the electoral register are liable to be called up to work at polling stations, for which they are paid 65 euros ($72), and require mitigating circumstances to be excused.

Fernandez’s team mate Jorge Miramon had also been drafted in to work on election day in his hometown of Zaragoza but was released from duty earlier in the week.

Edited by Joseph Edeh/Felix Ajide

Sport

Enugu Sports Club plans state-of-the-art gymnastic hall to improve physical fitness

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The Executive Chairman, Enugu Sports Club, Mr Onyeka Onwe, has said that the Club is planning a State-of-the-art gymnastic (gym) hall to improve physical fitness in the State.

Onwe disclosed this in an interview with Nigeria News Agency on Tuesday in Enugu.

According to him, the club and Enugu residents need a state-of-art gym hall since the present gym at the club is small.

“The gym at the club is small that is why we are planning a spacious and state-of-the-art gym so that club members and visitors will have a nice environment for physical fitness.

“The new gym will boost the fitness of those who will take advantage of the facilities.

“Keeping fit in a spacious and secured environment is one of the legacies l want to leave for the club,” he said.

“We are making efforts to get philanthropists, organisations and governments to assist the club with funds for the gym,” he said.

Onwe said that the club would also modernise its table tennis auditorium and snooker parlour and make them standard for competitions.

The chairman said that the club would focus on the improvement and upgrading of all sporting facilities in the club house.

Edited by Chidinma Agu/Donald Ugwu

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Nigeria`s Football administration needs overhauling, says Elegbeleye

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A former Director-General of the National Sports Commission, Gbenga Elegbeleye, has called for a thorough examination of football administration in Nigeria as a response to the national teams’ dwindling fortunes.

Elegbeleye told Nigeria News Agency on Tuesday.

“Age-grade and women’s football have always been our strength and we particularly do well in those tournaments. But here we are not booking qualification for international age-grade and women’s competition,“he said.

He alleged that football administrators these days bring in their clients, cronies and kinsmen to manage the affairs of the country`s national teams.

“I am not happy about the tragedy that befell our national teams this year,” he said.

NAN reports that the most recent football under-performance by Nigeria came when five-time champions, the Golden Eaglets, failed to go beyond the round of 16 at the U-17 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Before then, the home-based Super Eagles also failed to qualify for the  Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) in Cameroon in January 2020.

The national U-23 team, the Olympic Eagles, also failed to book a Tokyo 2020 ticket, as they could not go beyond the group stage at U-23 Africa Cup of Nations.

The women’s national teams haven’t fared better either. The Super Falcons didn’t qualify for the Olympics, as they were beaten to the ticket by Cote D’Ivoire in Oct.

Elegbeleye, who was a member of the 2011 Ministerial Committee on Reform of Football Administration in Nigeria, said only a careful and complete overhaul of the system would curtail further underachievement.

Sunday Dare, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, had on Monday met with the board of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

The minister demanded a written explanation over the “dismal” exit of the country’s teams from four football tournaments.

But Elegbeleye stated that the minister should go beyond demanding an explanation.

“We need a complete overhauling of football administration in Nigeria.

“With all due respect to the current board of the NFF – I do not have any problem with the board – football is not Nollywood.

“It takes effective and efficient football administration to deliver success in every aspect of the football value chain.

“Football matches are won on the pitch by players through the input of the technical crew, but football successes are engineered and recorded in the boardroom.

“We need to sit up and tell ourselves some hard truth that football is not a showbiz. Grandstanding and showmanship can’t earn us success in the game,” he said.

He, however acknowledged that the men’s senior national team, the Super Eagles, were at the heart of whatever went well for Nigerian football in 2019.

“Yes, the Super Eagles are about the only success story in Nigerian football this year.

“They got to the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations and have so far recorded 100 per cent success rate in the 2021 qualifiers.

“However, they have only played Benin Republic and Lesotho.

“For me, their true test comes when they play fellow African powerhouses such as Senegal, Ghana and Algeria. Benin and Lesotho victories are routine,” he said.

Edited by Joseph Edeh/Sadiya Hamza

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Toothless Egypt held by Comoros as Algeria, Ghana win

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Egypt, without injured striker Mo Salah, lacked a cutting edge in front of goal as they were held to a 0-0 draw by tiny Comoros Islands in their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Monday.

Midfielder Kahraba struck the crossbar early on and forward Trezeguet missed a one-on-one chance in the second period but Egypt also had goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy to thank for important saves.

The result follows a 1-1 home draw with Kenya in their Group G opener on Thursday and was wildly celebrated by the home fans, who invaded the pitch at the final whistle.

In the other Group G game, Kenya and Togo drew 1-1. Johanna Omolo put the East Africans in front before Hakim Ouro-Sama equalised for the visitors.

African Champions Algeria were made to sweat but collected a 1-0 victory in Botswana as Youcef Belaili netted after 15 minutes to ensure a full haul of six points from their opening two games in Group H.

Ghana needed a second half penalty from Jordan Ayew to claim a 1-0 success over Sao Tome and Principe on a difficult artificial surface as they also made it two wins from two matches in Group C.

Pa Modou Jagne scored an injury-time equaliser for Gambia in a 2-2 draw with the Democratic Republic of Congo in Group D to follow on from their surprise 3-1 success in Angola last week.

Cedric Bakambu and Jackson Muleka netted for the Congolese, who led twice in the contest but Bubacarr Jobe and Jagne rescued a point for the home side.

It was a similar story in Praia, where Mozambique scored in injury-time of the game to salvage a 2-2 draw against hosts Cape Verde Islands.

The home side also led twice as Garry Rodrigues and Ryan Mendes netted but Edson Mexer found the first equaliser before striker Witi netted for the visitors in injury-time to secure an excellent away point.

The top two nations in each pool advance to the 24-team finals scheduled to be held in Cameroon.

Edited by Emmanuel Okara/Adeleye Ajayi

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Nasarawa Commissioner seeks legislation compelling coys to contribute to sports development

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The Nasarawa State Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Mr Othman Adams, on Tuesday advocated legislation to compel companies doing business in the state to contribute funds for sports development.

Adams told newsmen in Lafia that such legislation would go a long way to address issues bordering on funds, to develop budding talents and reward performance.

According to him, contractors, companies and corporate organisations in the state will remit some funds into the state government coffer, specifically for sports development, as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

He also said that the legislation, if operational, would target a holistic sports development in the state.

“It is a known fact that, most of these organisations operating in Nasarawa state does not engage in any form of CSR,“ he said.

He stressed the need for a law to compel contractors and organisations doing business in the state to contribute some amount to the state government coffer.

According to him, such move will boost sports development, help discover talents, develop them and appropriately reward retired athletes who performed diligently during their days.

He decried the poor state of health of many retired athletes who had made the state and country proud during their active days.

“Some of these retired athletes, including footballers, who brought glory to the nation, have been abandoned to their fate as they can hardly feed or attend to their health.

“This should not be, considering the sacrifices they have made.”

The commissioner, however, urged athletes to always prepare ahead of retirement in order not to become a liability at old age.

Editing by Oluyinka Fadar/Dada Ahmed

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NBA fines Hield $25K for kicking ball into stands

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Buddy Hield paid the price for a Sunday night celebration.

The Sacramento guard kicked the ball into the stands after the Kings held on for a win over the visiting Boston Celtics, and the NBA handed him a $25,000 fine Monday.

It was the same penalty assessed to Patrick Beverley last month after the Los Angeles Clippers guard underhanded the ball into the stand following a win by his team.

On Saturday, the Kings survived when a last-second shot by Boston’s Marcus Smart rolled off the rim at the buzzer, sealing Sacramento’s 100-99 victory.

When the ball came down, Hield punched it to half court, then chased after it and booted it into the crowd.

NBA players are not allowed to “intentionally throw, kick, or send the ball into the stands for any reason.”

A technical foul is to be assessed if such an action occurs during a game, but the Sunday contest was already over by the time Hield showed off his kicking leg.

Hield, 26, was instrumental in the win, producing game highs with 35 points and four steals. He is averaging 19.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 0.9 steals through 12 games this season.

Edited by Emmanuel Okara/Maharazu Ahmed

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Foreign

German Olympic Chief, Hoermann, welcomes private initiative on games

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Alfons Hoermann, president of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), has given a cautious welcome to private plans promoting a bid to host the 2030 Winter Games.

“Fundamentally, it is pleasing when traditional venues in Germany express an interest in hosting major sporting events and creating the conditions for this,’’ he said on Tuesday.

“But the path to a successful Olympic bid leads through a completely different dimension of requirements.

“On the DOSB side, we will examine the possible concept in due course and assess if it can have a chance of success.’’

On Monday, two individuals revealed an initiative to host the games across Thuringia, Saxony and Bavaria.

They hope to present their idea to the DOSB general assembly on Dec. 7.

The 2022 winter games will be hosted in Beijing and 2026 has been awarded to Milan-Cortina in Italy.

Edited by Fatima Sule/Abdulfatah Babatunde

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