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Lagos State FA Congratulates Madiba, Inter Lagos, Ikorodu City, On NNL Play-offs Tickets

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The Lagos State Football Association ably led by Hajji Gafar Liameed, has congratulated the trio of Lagos State based football clubs, Madiba FC, Inter Lagos and Ikorodu City, for qualifying for the NNL Super 8 payoffs.

In the press statement, Hajji Gafar Liameed described the qualification of the teams, as remarkable and very commendable.

“Lagos State Football Association, the stakeholders and indeed, all lovers of the game are very happy over the feats of these teams, and of course, what it portends for the development of the game in Lagos State.

“As we earnestly look forward to big time and top level football matches in Lagos State in the next season, Lagos FA, shall continue to give technical and every other necessary supports to all clubs, for the benefits of game in the state.”

The board of the Lagos State Football Association, also expresses its profound appreciation to the Lagos State Government and its agencies, including the Lagos State Sports Commission, for providing the enabling environment for social activities and particularly, football to thrive in the state.

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Aruna ranked 17th, reclaims Africa’s top spot

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Less than two months after surrendering the top spot in the continental ranking, Quadri Aruna has reclaimed his place after leaping to 17th place in the latest ITTF rankings released on Tuesday by the world table tennis ruling body.

Aruna, who recently reclaimed the ITTF Africa Cup in Rwanda earlier this month, rose by two steps up the ranking ladder to become the highest rated African in the world.

Egypt’s Omar Assar who toppled Aruna in the last rankings dropped to 22 in the world after occupying the top spot in Africa in the last two months following his triumph at the last African Games in Ghana.

Assar’s drop in the world ranking was due to the expiration of the quarter-finals points he garnered at the Durban 2023 World Championships in South Africa and that automatically made him lose some points that prompted his fall in the ranking.

Africa’s biggest movers in May include Egypt’s Mohamed El-Beiali, who became the third-best-ranked player on the continent and 49th in the world after finishing as runners-up at the 2024 ITTF Africa Cup. He lost 4-0 loss to Aruna in Kigali.

Despite dropping by a step, Egypt’s Dina Meshref held on to the top echelon of Africa as the 24th-best player in the world.

Meshref’s compatriot, Hana Goda, remained static as 31st ranked in the world.

Following the conclusion of all continental quotas for the Olympic Games, players are now eager to pick up their tickets to Paris through the world ranking, which will be in force on June 11 as ITTF concludes the list of participants at the 2024 Olympic Games in France.

Source: The Punch

 

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Ligue 1 club Lyon eye Super Eagles midfielder Ndidi

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Having secured UEFA Europa League football for next season, Olympique Lyonnais are looking to bolster their squad this summer.

Targets are already being identified, including Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi (27), according to Foot Mercato.

Whilst Nemanja Matić and Maxence Caqueret have been convinced in Lyon’s midfield since the turn of the calendar year, there is a need for recruitment in this sector. The latter is likely to garner interest this summer and a departure cannot be ruled out.

The same goes for Corentin Tolisso, whilst Orel Mangala, who arrived at OL from Nottingham Forest in January, has failed to establish himself.

Lyon moved for Ndidi last summer but to no avail; the deal was considered too complex at the time. However, the Nigerian midfielder, who has just helped guide Leicester City back to the Premier League, is out of contract this summer.

However, whilst Les Gones are looking to bring Ndidi in on a free transfer, the Ligue 1 side may face competition from Everton and Real Betis.

 

 

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Laporta gambles on Hansi Flick to restore Barcelona’s lustre

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At the end of April, Barcelona president Joan Laporta, choking with emotion, said he was “proud” to have Xavi Hernandez staying on as coach for next season.

Before May had run its course, Laporta sacked the former Barca midfield great and appointed German coach Hansi Flick in his stead.

Since the president was re-elected for his second spell in charge in March 2021, Barcelona have been without a coherent plan, running purely on vibes. It can only get you so far.

Selling off areas of the club and compromising future income to raise immediate funds for heavy transfer investment, Laporta opted for a get-success-quick strategy, with limited results.

Barcelona won the 2022/23 La Liga title for the first time since 2019, but they have still struggled in Europe.

This season everything fell to pieces, with Real Madrid storming to La Liga glory and Barcelona finishing the campaign trophyless.

“It’s fantastic news that Xavi is staying — the team we have, which is growing with many young talents, needs this stability,” said Laporta, weeks before performing a spectacular u-turn.

Xavi for his part did not mince his words about the challenges that faced Flick.

“You will suffer — this is a very complicated place to be,” Xavi warned his successor.

Barcelona’s ‘entorno’ — everything swirling around the club that increases pressure, from the media to the fans, to loose-lipped directors and former players chipping in — will stay the same.

However, in hiring Flick, the club’s direction has changed.

The majority of their coaches have played for Barcelona — Xavi, Ronald Koeman, Luis Enrique, Pep Guardiola among others.

Flick, on the other hand, has never played or coached in Spain, let alone at the club itself.

The 59-year-old’s greatest success was leading Bayern Munich to a sextuple in 2020, including an 8-2 humiliation of Barcelona, but he struggled with the German national team, becoming their first coach ever to be sacked.

Barca’s sporting director Deco warned in February that Barcelona should move away from their traditional “tiki-taka” style.

“The president agrees with me on this, a deep change is needed — there is a method that is worn out,” he said.

– ‘A deep change is needed’ –

Flick’s style is attacking but more direct than Barcelona usually attempt to play, with more crossing.

The coach will be happy to work with Ilkay Gundogan, whom he appointed Germany captain, and Robert Lewandowski, a key player in his triumphant Bayern Munich side.

He boasts coaching experience which Xavi lacked, having only worked at Al-Sadd in Qatar before taking the reins at Camp Nou.

Flick tends to set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, rather than Barcelona’s 4-3-3, although they are not far removed.

The club’s financial difficulties will be a key factor in whether the German can improve Barcelona’s fortunes.

After pivot Sergio Busquets left, Barcelona failed to adequately replace him, unable to afford Xavi’s main target, Real Sociedad’s Martin Zubimendi.

With new champions and rivals Real Madrid set to sign Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe, keeping up with Los Blancos will be a hard task for any coach.

Source: The Punch

 

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REVEALED: Untold story of how NFF cabal outsmarted Sports Minister over anointed candidate Emmanuel Amuneke

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Insiders at the Nigeria Football Federation have disclosed details about the selection process for the new Super Eagles coach. 

Insiders at the Nigeria Football Federation have disclosed details about the selection process for the new Super Eagles coach.

It has been revealed that former Super Eagles winger Finidi George was chosen over the choice of Sports Minister’s anointed candidate,  Emmanuel Amuneke, shedding light on the decision-making process within the organization.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) recently announced that Finidi George has been appointed as the new Head Coach of the Super Eagles, the national football team of Nigeria.

The untold story about the drama in the appointment is that even though some media sections are craving for former Golden Eaglets handler Emmanuel Amuneke, the NFF cabals felt that the appointment of Amuneke could be a regrettable action to their rackets having the backing of Sports Minister John Enoh who believed Amuneke is his choice of coaching candidate for the Nigeria senior team.

“Nobody has said the truth about why Amuneke was not picked, all that you are seeing in the media is just propaganda. The NFF boys have seen the moves of the Sports Minister interested in the appointment of Amuneke, and some sincere football administrators also believe Amuneke is the best choice. But the NFF boys know that if Amuneke should get the Super Eagles job with the backing of the Sports Minister, things could change in the Glass House. Amuneke will not give room for some rackets, he will not listen to them and they know. NFF does not want a coach that will have the backing of Federal Government, they want someone that will be loyal to them,” a top football administrator told ThePapers.

The source also revealed that appointing Daniel Amokachi as Finidi assistant is political.

“There are many coaches far better than Amokachi, even some ex-players frown at the appointment of Amokachi as assistant coach of the team. Amokachi does not have anything to offer the team, instead, he could be a major problem in the dressing room. In the late Stephen Keshi team, Amokachi had open confrontations with some senior players, so on what basis was he appointed as an assistant coach?” he questioned.

With only a few weeks to go before the Super Eagles’ crucial matches, the NFF believes that Finidi’s appointment is the right decision to ensure the team’s success and the 1994 AFCON winner will be looking to make his mark and prove that the NFF made the right decision in appointing him as the new head coach.

George, who spent 20 months as assistant to coach José Santos Peseiro before the Portuguese voluntarily left the post following the accomplishment of the Africa Cup of Nations runner-up position at Cote d’Ivoire 2023, took charge of the squad in an interim capacity during two friendly matches in Morocco.

 

 

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Emery signs new five-year Aston Villa contract

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Aston Villa manager Unai Emery has signed a new five-year contract with the club after taking them into next season’s Champions League.

The 52-year-old Spaniard has turned Villa around since arriving from Villarreal in October 2022 with the club sitting 17th in the Premier League.

He led them to seventh place in his first season in charge and fourth this campaign.

“I am very happy to take this step and the responsibility of leading this club,” said Emery, whose existing deal still had another three years to run.

“There’s a great chemistry in Aston Villa. And the element of the fans’ support also makes the difference to feel like home.

“We are really excited to continue this journey with no limits to our dreams.”

Former Sevilla and Arsenal boss Emery also took Villa, the 1982 European Cup champions, to the semi-finals of the Europa Conference League this season in their first European campaign for 13 years.

Chairman Nassef Sawiris said: “We are building something special here at Aston Villa with Unai at its core and we are delighted that he has signed a new deal with the club until 2029.

“As we move into our historic, 150th anniversary year, there is a lot to look forward to with Unai at the helm.”

Aston Villa undoubtedly want to bolster their squad this summer after the superb achievement of reaching the Champions League – but the news that manager Unai Emery has agreed a new five-year contract means they have already captured the most vital signature of all.

Emery extended his current deal until 2027 in April but this was always with the intention of a longer-term extension once the season finished. Villa have wasted no time in tying up their inspirational manager for the future.

The Spaniard has overseen a stunning rejuvenation of Villa since succeeding the sacked Steven Gerrard in October 2022.

Emery’s new contract is a sign of ambition from Villa’s owners but also an indication of the faith he has in them, in partnership with his long-time associate, Villa’s president of football operations Monchi.

The fact Emery has taken them into the Champions League was beyond fans’ most optimistic expectations this season.

Emery has put Villa ahead of schedule but there will be no complaints as they mix with the Champions League big names for the first time.

They will feel confident of making an impact under a manager with such pedigree in the European environment, one who already has four second-tier Europa League titles to his name.

He has already assumed hero status at Villa Park and it will be a source of joy to everyone at the club that Emery has now signed up until 2029.

Source: Bbc Sport

 

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Ronaldo breaks Saudi Pro League scoring record

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Al Nassr

Cristiano Ronaldo broke the record for the most goals in a Saudi Pro League season when he struck for the 34th and 35th time in Al Nassr’s final game of the campaign.

“I don’t follow the records, the records follow me,” the 39-year-old Portuguese forward tweeted afterward.

The former Real Madrid and Manchester United star struck in first-half stoppage time and again in the 69th minute with a header as Al Nassr defeated Al Ittihad 4-2 at home on Monday.

The previous record for most goals in a single season was the 34 scored by the Moroccan Abderrazak Hamdallah in 2018-19.

Al Nassr were already assured of a second-placed finish, coming a distant 14 points behind champions Al Hilal.

Ronaldo joined Riyadh-based Al Nassr in December 2022, the start of an influx of overseas players to the Saudi league on lucrative contracts.

Ronaldo, who led Portugal to victory at the 2016 Euros, has been selected for the squad for this year’s edition in Germany next month — his 11th international tournament.

He is the most capped player in men’s international football with 206 appearances and has scored a record 128 goals.

Sources: The punch

 

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