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U.S. football club sign 14-year-old on professional contract

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Orange County Soccer Club have signed on 14-year-old Francis Jacobs, making him the youngest professional male signing in U.S. football history, the California club said on Tuesday.

Jacobs, who is 14 years, four months and 29 days old, signed a deal with the second-tier United Soccer League club.

He could make his debut on Saturday against Las Vegas Lights FC.

“I am very excited for Francis, who is a young and gifted local talent, to join our team,” said head coach Braeden Cloutier. “I’ve been really impressed with his poise and ability on the ball that he’s shown us these past few months.”

Jacobs had also trained with Bayer Leverkusen and FC Koln.

His signing eclipses that of Freddy Adu, who was 14 years, five months and 16 days when he joined DC United in 2003.

Adu won a major contract from Nike but bounced around a slew of clubs and never quite made an impact that his early promise indicated.(Reuters/NAN)

OLAL

(Edited by Olawale Alabi)

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Players rates Rainoil Tennis Open high

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The ongoing Rainoil Tennis Open has received commendation from some of the participating players, saying it will aid growth of the game in Nigeria.

One of the players, Thomas Otu, who spoke with the Nigeria News Agency on Friday in Lagos, said the standard and organisation of the tournament was commendable.

Otu said that it would help to lift the game in the country.

“Honestly, I am impressed with what I have seen so far in the tournament.

“The organisation has been fantastic and the competition has been very competitive,” he said.

Another player, David Dawariye, said that the tournament has been very challenging and getting the best out of him and other players, who were competing to be winners.

“So far, this tournament has been very demanding.

“We have some of the best Nigerian players here competing, and I must confess that it has been very interesting for me to play against the very best in the country.

“I want to commend Rainoil for making this possible.

“This is a very competitive tournament and can be compared to any of the major championships in the country,” Dawariye said.

On his parts, Chima Michael, said competing in the Rainoil Tennis Open “is an opportunity to compete at a bigger stage against some of Nigeria’s best players.

“I am glad to feature in this tournament and I am ready to give my best. I commend Rainoil for making this tournament possible.

“The standard has been high, and I want to believe that is one of the best tournaments in the country,” he said.

Edited & Vetted By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Olagoke Olatoye
(NAN)

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Imeh, Emmanuel power into quarterfinals of Rainoil Tennis Open

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Two tennis players, Joseph Imeh and Sylvester Emmanuel, have qualified for the quarterfinals in their respective games in the ongoing Rainoil Tennis Open, men single defending champion.

Christian Paul, who was seeded 13, Imeh had to dig in deep to win at 7/6 (3), 5/1 to move closer to the title race.

It was at a tight first set, and Paul’s level tailed off in the second set as he retired due to injury.

Imeh’s opponent in Friday’s quarterfinal fixtures will be Godsgift Timibra, who advanced at the expense of Clifford Enosoregbe.

Enosoregbe had carved out an early break against Timibra in the third game of the first set at 1-2.

While serving in the fourth game, the former national champion double faulted for 40-40 and reacted quite angrily, hitting the ball to the other side of the court where it met Timibra.

It was a different ball game for Emmanuel as he had an easy game playing against Paul Emmanuel, who he outplayed in two straight sets of 6/3, 6/2, to keep his hope of adding the Rainoil Tennis Open crown to the CBN title he won in June.

Also, through to the quarter-finals are Chima Michael and Thomas.

Chima rallied sensationally from a set down to knock out 3rd seed, Uche Oparaoji, 3-6, 6-0, 6-4, while 4th seed, Otu outclassed Joseph Iyorovbe 6-0, 6-2 to remain in the title chase.

In the ladies’ singles, tournament number one seed, Oyinlomo Quadre, produced a near-perfect performance to beat Loveth Donatus as she moved into the quarter-finals.

Bidding for her third straight national title, the 16-year-old Quadre surrendered just a game in a comprehensive 6-0, 6-1 victory.

The talented youngster will next take on 5th seed, Patience Onebamhoin, who advanced following a 6-1, 3-1 (rtd) win over Bukola Olowu, who retired due to injury midway through the second set.

Fourth seed, Christie Agugbom defeated youngster, Oiza Yakubu, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals.

The contest- a repeat of their quarter-final encounter which Agugbom won- began with Yakubu breaking in the opening game of the first set, but Agugbom broke back immediately for 1-1.

Both players would again trade breaks, before staying on serve until the 10th game, where Agugbom broke to take the set.

Second seed Aanu Aiyegbusi kept up her fine form as she eased past Toyin Asogba 6-3, 6-0 to also join the quarter-final train, while Ibironke Oladipo made light work of Amala Nwokolo, winning 6-1, 6-0.

Edited & Vetted By: Olagoke Olatoye
(NAN)

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AFN will unravel all past corrupt practices- Acting President

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Olamide George, Acting President, Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), says a fact-finding committee will work diligently in line with the law to unravel all past corrupt practices in the federation.

George made this known on Thursday in Lagos.

He said in a statement that all the atrocities that bedeviled the federation in the past few years would be looked into.

According to him, there is need for the federation to rebuild its image and the confidence of athletes and officials by remaining committed to promoting its founding objectives.

“AFN is still a member of the National Sports Federation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and will continue to act in line with the Code of Governance.

“The Athletics Federation of Nigeria Constitution in Article 6.13 states An Ordinary Congress is held every year as stipulated by the National Sports Federation Code of Governance.

“The AFN ordinary elective congress is held every four years in line with the Olympic circle subscribe to.

“The purported Awka, Anambra State Congress is illegal and of no effect.

” It contravenes Article 6.1.4 which states that convening of the Congress shall be sent to the Secretariat of each member association by the AFN Head Office.

“It should be done at least 60 days prior to the date of the Congress of the Constitution of Athletics Federation of Nigeria,” he said.

Edited & Vetted By: Olagoke Olatoye
(NAN)

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LOC hails standard at Ebonyi veterans football competition

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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
(NAN)

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FCT set for maiden ECOWAS-Abuja Int’l Marathon

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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
(NAN)

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UEFA president criticises VAR use, says football needs uncertainty

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VaR

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
(NAN)

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