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Real Madrid’s Asensio suffers anterior cruciate ligament injury



Real Madrid forward Marco Asensio is facing several months out of action after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

The Spanish winger suffered the injury during a pre-season friendly involving the former La Liga champions and Arsenal at Maryland in the U.S. on Tuesday.

He scored the equaliser for Real Madrid minutes before his foot seemed to get caught in the turf as he tussled for possession with Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang at the 60-minute mark.

Asensio was stretchered off with an injury coach Zinedine Zidane described as “worrisome”, and his fears were confirmed when doctors revealed the extent of damage to the player’s knee.

“After (a) test carried out on our player Marco Asensio by the Real Madrid medical services, he has been diagnosed with a rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament and the external meniscus of his left knee,” the Spanish club said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The player will be surgically operated on in the next few days.”

Asensio’s injury could leave a serious dent in Zidane’s plans for the upcoming season, and throw Dani Ceballos’ reported loan move to Arsenal in doubt.

It was reported in the British media that Ceballos is currently in London for a medical after the clubs agreed a deal.


(Edited by Olawale Alabi)


Nasarawa United, Plateau United draw 1-1, host club official blames referees for fans’ misbehaviour



Hosts Nasarawa United Football Club and Plateau United Football Club of Jos on Wednesday in Lafia ended their Match Day 4 clash 1-1, with an orgy of violence trailing the game.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that after the game at the Lafia Township Stadium, the Match Commissioner, Centre Referee and the two Assistant Referees were among those who suffered attacks.

Also, Bala Nikyu, the Head Coach of Nasarawa United, was among victims of the attacks instigated by fans who felt that the match had been poorly officiated.

Players and officials of Plateau United FC were forced into the middle of the pitch till police reinforcements were in place to ensure their safety out of the stadium.

NAN reports that even before the end of the 2019/2020 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) fixture, tension had heightened in the spectators stands.

There was an agitation among the home club fans about the club’s poor performance since the beginning of the new season, and a good result was needed to douse tension.

When Nasarawa United’s Anas Yusuf scored in the 43rd minute, it seemed possible the home side would record their first win of the season.

But a glancing header by Mustapha Ibrahim made it 1-1 in the 54th minute to change the match’s complexion and for the fans to begin to express their frustration verbally.

NAN reports that the situation got worse with centre referee Bashir Salihu’s decision to overlook a tackle on a Nasarawa United player in their opponents’ penalty area late during the game.

The angry home fans were then joined by other fans who trooped into the stadium after the match ended, throwing stones, chairs and other objects at the referees.

It was during the attack on the match officials that an object hit the head of Nikyu, who was then quickly attended to by the club’s medical team.

In a reaction, Eche Amos, the Media Officer of Nasarawa United, who expressed sadness over the incident, blamed poor officiating for the violent melee.

“It’s quite unfortunate what happened today, but I think that our referees need to up their game, because part of what caused this situation is poor officiating,” he said.

A Nasarawa United FC supporter, who preferred anonymity, told NAN that aside the poor officiating, the fans were also reacting to the way “Nasarawa United players had been treated in away fixtures recently’’.

“In Katsina where we (the club) played an away match recently, they threatened to kill our players and the referees if the home side did not win the match there.

“Because of that, two penalty kicks were awarded to the Katsina United team and they won. Why will anyone then expect us to watch and not do anything? It is not possible.

“If this league must move forward, there must be fairness both for away and home teams so that even if you lose at home, you can still have hope that if you go away and play well, you will win,’’ he said.

(Edited by Olawale Alabi (NAN))

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Ezeonwuka wants more football actions in upgraded Rojenny football stadium



Ezeonwuka wants more football actions in upgraded Rojenny stadium


Oba (Anambra), Nov. 20, 2019 Rommy Ezeonwuka, the P0roprietor of Rojenny Stadium and Games Village, Oba in Anambra, says his facility remains one of the best but most under-utilised football stadium in the country.

Ezeonwuka made the assertion on Tuesday when he conducted newsmen round to see the ongoing upgrade work at the stadium in Oba, near Onitsha.

He called on the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and football administrators to visit the stadium and “’see the quality of the pitch and serenity of the environment at Rojenny”.

He said the facility was available for camping, training and for competitive football matches as well as athletics with eight lane tartan tracks around the pitch.

The proprietor said night matches could now be played at the stadium alongside other games.

“As you can see, the dimensions are FIFA standards with installed floodlight for night games.

“Rojenny is another home for Nigerian football, remember this is where the 1993 Kanu Nwankwo Golden Eaglets camped before they went to Japan to rule the world.

“You will agree that that team is the best U-17 Nigeria has produced.

“What we suffer here is effective use of this facility; Nigeria must look inwards and explore what we have.

“Camping here will not only build the individuals, it will instill team spirit because of the atmosphere,” he said.

He said Rojenny stadium was being prepared in readiness for the Nigeria Police Games which would be hosted in Anambra in 2020.

Ezeonwuka also called on the state government to direct some of its sporting activities to Rojenny and save the facility from lying idle.

“The secret of Rojenny is for government to package sporting competitions in this place so that it does not continue to lay idle,” he said.

(Edited by Buhari Bolaji/Peter Ejiofor (NAN))

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Kida commends D’Tigress for defeating Mali in semifinals



The President, Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF), Musa Kida, has commended the senior women’s national team for beating Mali in the semifinals of the FIBA Africa Pre-Olympic qualifying game on Sunday.

Kida said on Wednesday that the qualification of Rivers Hoopers and Raptors of Lagos was the right result for hard work of the federation, players and coaches.

According to him, with the men already qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games, no stone will be left unturned to see that Nigeria’s chances of a podium finish is brightened with the presence of D’Tigress.

Kida lauded the players for their dedication in the face of stiff opposition in Maputo which he described as gruelling.

“It was very gruelling for them after all these qualifiers that never used to happen before.

“Nigeria has made proof of basketball in the world.

“I have no doubt about it and as such, 2020 is going to be a good year to show that Nigeria’s basketball has come of age.

“Nigeria and Mozambique will join 14 other countries from America, Asia-Oceania and Europeto fight for the 10 available slots to the Olympics.

“As already announced by the Federation of International Basketball Associations, Belgium, China, France and Serbia have been picked to host the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) from Feb. 6 to 9 2020.

“Official draw ceremony will take place on the 30th of November at the FIBA headquarters,” Kids said in a statement.

Edited by Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Tambuwal charges Sokoto Utd. FC to strive harder in winning



Gov. Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state on Wednesday charged the New Branded Sokoto United Football Club to always strive harder in winning laurels for the state.

Tambuwal, who spoke while inaugurating the new club restated his administration’s commitment toward providing an enabling environment for the sports men and women in the state to display their talents.

“As we all witness today Sokoto state has branded, formidable football team that is capable of competing with other clubs in the national football league.

“As such I implore on the club that is to start the Nigerian football league season to work hard to ensure victory in the league matches,” he said.

The Governor commended sports managers in the state for their efforts aimed at taking the game of football and other sporting activities to a greater level.

Nigeria News Agency reports that Sokoto United Football Club will start the Nigerian football league season with Niger Tornadoes Football Club of Minna on Nov. 22.

Edited by Donald Ugwu (NAN)

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Ethiopia stuns Ivory Coast, Madagascar bag record win



Ethiopia caused the first real shock of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers when they came from behind to stun the Ivory Coast with a 2-1 victory in their Group K clash in Bahir Dar on Tuesday.

Serge Aurier gave the Ivorians an early lead when he knocked in a rebound after Max Gradel’s free kick had been parried into his path by home goalkeeper Abel Mamo.

Yet Ethiopia were level on 16 minutes as Surafel Dagnachew’s free kick was deflected in off the wall, before Shemeles Bekele shrugged off two defenders, and a shout for handball, to score the winner midway through the opening period.

Madagascar continued their fine recent form in the other game in the pool with a thumping 6-2 victory over Niger in Niamey.

The win is the biggest ever on the road in Nations Cup qualifiers for Madagascar and puts them top of the group with a full haul of six points from their two games.

Madagascar was 4-1 up at halftime thanks to a brace by Lalaina Nomenjanahary, and goals from Anicet (penalty) and Andria.

Paulin Voavy and Jerome Mombris added two more in the second period.

Niger had taken an early lead through Amadou Wonkoye before being stung by six unanswered goals. Yusif Moussa grabbed a late consolation for them.

A brace from striker Khama Billiat sealed a precious 2-1 away victory for Zimbabwe in Zambia.

Patson Daka had equalised for the Zambians in the opening period, but Billiat profited from a defensive lapse to net the winner 10 minutes from fulltime.

Noussair Mazraoui scored a first ever goal for Morocco as they eased to a 3-0 victory in Burundi, with Youssef En-Nesyri and Achraf Hakimi netting the others.

The other match in Group E saw Mauritania claim a 2-0 home win over Central African Republic as Moctar El Hacen and Diallo Guidileye scored.

Wahbi Khazri scored the only goal as Tunisia moved to the top of Group J with a full haul of six points following victory over Equatorial Guinea in Malabo.

In the other game in the pool, Libya rallied from a goal down to defeat Tanzania 2-1 in neutral Monastir.

Mbwana Samata put Tanzania ahead with a penalty in the first half, before the home side were also awarded a spot-kick that Sand Masaud converted. Anis Saltou netted the winner on 81 minutes.

Edited by Emmanuel Okara/Tajudeen Atitebi (NAN)

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Nadal sparks Spanish comeback, Canada into last eight



Shortly before midnight on Tuesday in Madrid’s La Caja Magica, Rafa Nadal punched the air as chants of “Rafa, Rafa” echoed around the arena and the Davis Cup Finals burst into life.

After generally disappointing attendances so far at the glitzy new version of the 119-year-old competition, a sell-out crowd in the cavernous 12,500-seat stadium roared the world number one to a 6-3 7-6(7) win over Russia’s Karen Khachanov.

While the reaction to Nadal’s victory sounded like Spain had won the old trophy for a sixth time it actually just levelled the Group B tie at 1-1.

The victory would come shortly before 2 a.m. when veteran duo Feliciano Lopez and Marcel Granollers beat Khachanov and Andrey Rublev 6-4 7-6 to clinch a 2-1 win.

With Russia having beaten defending champions Croatia 3-0 on Monday there was some anxiety on the Spain bench when Rublev surged back to beat Wimbledon semi-finalist Roberto Bautista Agut 3-6 6-3 7-6(0) and put them ahead.

That left the 33-year-old Nadal with no margin for error against dangerous world number 17 Khachanov.

But if ever there is a man for a crisis it is Nadal.

He had won his last 24 Davis Cup singles rubbers since losing on his debut in 2004 and was not about to stop now — not on home soil with his country depending on him.

Khachanov stretched him to breaking point at times, especially in the second set, but the 19-times Grand Slam champion fought off a set point before claiming victory.

Afterwards he said the new format, with ties consisting of three rubbers rather than the traditional five, made things dangerous for the fancied nations.

“The format makes things very difficult because every mistake puts you in a position that you don’t want to be,” Nadal told reporters, anxiously peering at the television to keep track of his compatriots playing doubles.

“The atmosphere has been amazing. The only negative thing in my opinion is we are just starting the last match at 1 a.m. That makes big trouble for us, for the players and the people who come to the stadium because tomorrow is a work day.”

Spain can reach the quarter-finals on Wednesday by beating Croatia, who axed Captain Zeljko Krajan two days before their opening tie and will be without injured talisman Marin Cilic.

Canada’s tennis resurgence continued as they became the first nation through to the last eight after beating the United States for the first time in 16 attempts.

Vasek Pospisil, ranked 150th in the world, edged youngster Reilly Opelka 7-6(5) 7-6(7) before Denis Shapovalov beat Taylor Fritz.

The Canadians’ second 2-1 win, having beaten Italy on Monday, sealed top spot in Group F.

“Right now, Canada is really in the best place it’s been in tennis history,” Pospisil said.

Canada could face Australia in the last eight after Nick Kyrgios returned from a two-month lay-off to put his team on their way to a 3-0 win over Colombia in Group D.

Australia face Belgium in a group decider on Wednesday.

Top seeds and last year’s runners-up France had a close shave as they beat Japan 2-1 — Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert winning the decisive doubles 6-7(4) 6-4 7-5 against Ben McLachlan and Yasutaka Uchiyama.

There were no French fans there to watch it, however.

The Les Bleus supporters club has boycotted the event in protest at radical changes that have largely replaced the 10-month long home and away knockout format with an 18-nation season-ender in a single city played over seven hectic days.

“Actually, it was pretty special because it was the first time I hear myself singing La Marseillaise,” Herbert joked.

Argentina beat Chile 3-0 in Group C while in Group E Kazakhstan edged the Netherlands 2-1.

The six group winners and two best-placed runners-up progress to the quarter-finals.

Edited by Emmanuel Okara/Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)

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