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Moura hat-trick sends Tottenham into Champions League final




Tottenham looked down and out at half-time after skipper Matthijs de Ligt’s fifth-minute header and a superb 35th minute effort by Hakim Ziyech put Ajax in complete command of the tie.

The Dutch side had won the first leg 1-0 in London last week.

But 24 hours after Liverpool’s miracle comeback to beat FC Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate, Tottenham produced their own heroics to reach their first European Cup final match.

The celebratory mood in the jam-packed Johan Cruyff Arena turned to one of nail-biting tension after Brazilian Moura scored twice in four minutes early in the second half.

The goals had put Spurs within a goal of going through.

Ziyech hit the post for Ajax who appeared to have weathered the storm, but Moura struck past Andre Onana to flatten the Ajax players and send the away fans into delirium.

Tottenham, playing in their first European Cup semi-final for 57 years, arrived in Amsterdam on a run of woeful form having suffered three successive defeats in all competitions.

Ajax, by contrast, were buoyant after winning the Dutch Cup final at the weekend, and they began on the front foot with Dusan Tadic forcing a flying save from Hugo Lloris.

When the resulting corner kick came, Tottenham’s marking was non-existent as De Ligt glanced his header home.

It did not change the basic equation for Tottenham who knew they needed to score twice and Mauricio Pochettino’s side, so disappointing last week, responded in spirited fashion.

Son Heung-min, back after missing the first leg because of suspension, deceived goalkeeper Onana with a cross that hit the post and Son then forced another save from a flowing move.

But Ajax were cool, calm and collected and bided their time before striking again in devastating fashion.

Tadic, who moments earlier had dragged a shot just wide, was released down the left and he cut the ball back perfectly for Ziyech to whip a left-footed shot inside the far post.

Tottenham sent on veteran striker Fernando Llorente for midfielder Victor Wanyama for the start of the second half and pushed Ajax back.

Dele Alli was denied by Onana but Tottenham grabbed a lifeline soon after.

That was when a rapid counter-attack ended with Moura converting in style after sprinting through to meet Alli’s pass in the 55th minute.

Four minutes later the impossible began to look possible as Onana saved brilliantly from Llorente but Ajax failed to clear the ball and Moura fired through a crowd.

In a rip-roaring finale played out in nerve-shredding tension, Ziyech almost restored Ajax’s lead.

This was when his slow shot thudded against the post while a desperate lunging block by De Lijt denied Moura.

When ex-Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen headed against the crossbar late on it seemed Tottenham would fall just short, as they did 57 years ago in their only other European Cup semi-final.

But there was one final twist.

A high ball pumped forward was flicked to Moura by Alli and the Brazilian’s first-time shot found the corner.


NBA fines Hield $25K for kicking ball into stands



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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Nasarawa Commissioner seeks legislation compelling coys to contribute to sports development



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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German Olympic Chief, Hoermann, welcomes private initiative on games



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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Olympics: Tokyo finishes building stadium for 2020



Construction work has been completed at Tokyo’s National Stadium, set to be the centrepiece of next year’s Olympic Games, the site’s owners said on Tuesday.

The Japan Sports Council said the final work had been completed on Thursday with just the final quality and safety checks remaining before the stadium opens next month.

It will be officially unveiled on Dec. 21, with the Emperor’s Cup soccer final being the first sporting event to be held there on New Year’s Day.

Completed at a cost of more than $1.25 billion, the stadium, which can accommodate 60,000, will also host the athletics and soccer events during the Games.

Construction started in December 2016, about 14 months later than planned, after the original design was scrapped because of a public outcry over spiraling costs.

The delay meant the stadium could not host matches of the Rugby World Cup, as originally planned.

The National Stadium is one of eight new venues to be used at the Tokyo Games, all of them are either complete or on schedule to be finished before the event.

The Tokyo Olympics run from July 24 to Aug. 9.

Edited by Emmanuel Okara/Maharazu Ahmed

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Beach Soccer World Cup: We are good to go , says Sand Eagles’ Captain



Victor Tale, Captain of the Super Sand Eagles says the team is in top form for an impressive outing at the 2019 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Paraguay.

Tale told the Nigeria News Agency in a phone interview on Tuesday that judging from the performance of the team in preparatory friendly matches for the tournament, the Sand Eagles were good to go.

NAN reports that the team left Nigeria on Nov. 8 for the tournament, which holds between Nov. 21 and Nov. 24 in Paraguay.

Nigeria will compete against Brazil, Oman and Portugal in Group D.

Tale said though the Sand Eagles lost some of the friendly matches they played after arrival in Paraguay, the team had learnt from their mistakes and were fully ready for the tournament.

“Our friendly matches showed that we are ready, although we lost some of our matches but we have learnt a lot from our mistakes.

“The current form of each of my teammates is commendable, you know to be in top form goes a long way in a tournament of such magnitude,’’ he said.

NAN reports that, in the team’s friendly match against the host, Paraguay won 7-4, while the Super Sand Eagles won the match against Tahiti 9-5.

The Nigerian team also lost another friendly 2-1 to UAE after extra time.

Edited by Buhari Bolaji/Maharazu Ahmed

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Shenjobi FC emerges winner of CMD’s football competition



Shenjobi Football Club has emerged winner of the 2019 Chief Medical Director’s Football Competition organised by the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan.

Nigeria News Agency reports that Shenjobi FC emerged winner of the competition after defeating Olatawura Football Club 2-0 in the finals played at the UCH Sports field.

Shenjobi, a team which comprises administrative staff of the institution had secured its two goals through Tunde Idris.

The competition which commenced on Oct. 28, was part of activities lined up to celebrate the institution’s 62nd anniversary.

Prof. Abiodun Otegbayo, the Chief Medical Director, UCH, said the institution was founded on Nov. 20, 1962, adding that the tournament was one of the activities to mark its 62nd anniversary.

Otegbayo said that the tournament was organised by the institution to foster unity among members of staff and add value to their health.

“The spirit behind it is the unification of the staff of the hospital. Today, we have doctors playing administrators. Previously, Medical Laboratory Scientists, Pharmacists, all those group have played together.

“So, this is to unite the hospital so that we work as a team. As they are working as a team on the football pitch, the same way we want them to work together in the hospital.

“So that together we will achieve the aims and objectives of the institution,’’ he said.

The CMD added that the tournament would encourage value addition to their health, saying sports and physical activities improve the health.

“I think the idea of it is to do something to add value to our health. When we engage in sports we become very fit. Your heart function well, your lung function well, your brain function well.

“So, for those who have not been engaging in one form of sporting activity or the other, we encourage them to do so. Even if you cannot play any game, you can do work out,’’ he said.

Otegbayo described football as the leading game of sports in the country, saying the country was best known for football across the world.

He promised that the competition would be an annual event to promote unity and sound health.

NAN reports that the well attended event featured presentation of medals, trophies and monetary prizes to the outstanding teams.

Edited by Ese E. Ekama

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