A backup Olympic flame was used Tuesday in Ancient Olympia after unsuitable weather forced the cancellation of a traditional lighting ceremony using the sun’s rays.
The Olympic flame will now make its long journey toward the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, which begin on February 9.
Greek officials had successfully conducted the final rehearsal for the kindling of the Olympic flame on Sunday in sunny skies and it was this one that was used in the ceremony at the birthplace of the ancient Olympics.
Nigeria’s Super Eagles will lock horns with Argentina in a high-profile international friendly in the Russian city of Krasnodar on Tuesday, November 14, the Nigeria Football Federation has confirmed.
NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, confirmed yesterday that arrangements have been concluded with regards to the big match, subject to approval by world football-ruling body FIFA and agreeable flight arrangements. The match is scheduled to take place at the Krasnodar Arena Stadium.
“We have had long and fruitful talks, and we can say that we have an agreement. We await the approval by FIFA and also, we have to agree on the flight arrangements that would be comfortable for the players and crew,” Sanusi said in an NFF press release.
“The match will come up on 14th November, four days after the Super Eagles’ final 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match away to Algeria. We had offers from teams like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Morocco but we have opted for the Argentines.”
The Eagles, who have already qualified for the 2018 World Cup, face Algeria’s Fennecs at the Stade Mohamed Hamlaoui in Constantine on Friday, November 10.
Nigeria and Argentina played two friendly matches in 2011, the first in Abuja in June ending 4-1 in favour of the Super Eagles while the Argentines replied with a 3-1 victory in Dhaka, Bangladesh three months later.
Both teams have met numerous times at the FIFA World Cup. In a 1994, a Diego MAradona inspired side won 2-1 with two goals from Claudio Cannigia with the Eagles sole goal scored by Samson Siasia. In 2002, a Gabriel Batistuta goal helped Argentina to a lone goal victory at the Korea/Japan World Cup. The result was replicated at the 210 World Cup in South Africa, while the South Americans also triumphed 3-2 at the Brazil 2014 World Cup. A brace from Ahmed Musa was not enough to save Nigeria as Lionel Messi also scored two to help his team to victory.
Other famous encounters between both nations include two final matches of the Olympic Men’s Football Tournament – Nigeria edging it in 1996 in America and the Argies winning by the odd goal in China 12 years later.
NFF’s FIFA Match Agent Jairo Pachon of Eurodata Sport, who also organised the friendly matches with the Argentines in 2011, told thenff.com: “We are very pleased to be able to deliver such a high-profile game to celebrate the Super Eagles’ 2018 World Cup qualification.
“It was a lot of work over the past week but we are happy this has become reality. We will, in due course, reveal the Nigerian sponsor of the match who will have the match rights in Nigeria.”
World Cup-bound Nigeria will face Argentina in a friendly on November 14 in Krasnoder, Russia, after they rejected offers to play against Morocco, Iran and Saudi Arabia, officials said.
Nigeria Football Federation general secretary Mohammed Sanusi disclosed that nearly all arrangements have been concluded with regards to the big match, subject to approval by world football–ruling body, FIFA and agreeable flight arrangements.
“We have had long and fruitful talks, and we can say that we have an agreement. We await the approval by FIFA and also, we have to agree on the flight arrangements that would be comfortable for the players and crew,” Sanusi said.
“The match will come up on 14th November, four days after the Super Eagles’ final 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match away to Algeria.
“We had offers from teams like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Morocco but we have opted for the Argentines.”
The Eagles take on Algeria on Friday, November 10, while Argentina will take on World Cup hosts Russia same day in another friendly.
Nigeria and Argentina played two high –profile friendly matches in 2011, the first in Abuja in June ending 4-1 in favour of the Super Eagles.
The Albiceleste won the second encounter 3-1 in Dhaka, Bangladesh three months later.
Barcelona dismissed another day of political chaos in Catalonia to continue on their merry way at the top of La Liga by beating Malaga 2-0 at the Camp Nou.
Spanish Primer Minister Mariano Rajoy announced on Saturday that Madrid will move to dismiss Catalonia’s separatist government and call fresh elections in the semi-autonomous region.
In protest 450,000 independence supporters piled onto the streets of Barcelona to voice their anger.
However, other than the usual cries in favour of independence in the 17th minute to mark the fall of Catalonia in the Spanish War of Succession in 1714 and sporadic chants of “freedom”, it was business as usual for Barca.
Earlier, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu insisted Barca will not be used as a political tool in the political battle over independence.
“We are not an instrument to be manipulated for political interests, whatever they may be,” Bartomeu told club members at Barca’s annual general meeting (AGM). “Nobody can appropriate our badge or flag.”
The club has backed Catalonia’s right to self-determination but refused to position itself either in favour or against independence.
And despite being criticised by both sides of the independence debate for his neutral stance, Bartomeu went largely unchallenged at the AGM as members happily passed a budget backed by a club record revenue of 897 million euros ($1.06 billion) for the 2017/18 season.
That calm transferred onto the pitch as a 11th win in 12 La Liga and Champions League games this season leaves Barca four points clear of Valencia, and eight ahead of rivals Real Madrid, who host Eibar on Sunday.
Barca had failed to win four of their last six games against Malaga, but any threat the winless Andalusians could continue that run evaporated inside two minutes in fortuitous fashion for the hosts.
– ‘Grotesque’ decision –
Gerard Deulofeu flicked home his first ever goal for the club with aplomb, but Malaga couldn’t believe the goal was allowed to stand despite the ball clearly having gone out of play before Lucas Digne crossed into the penalty area.
“It is grotesque. The ball was half a metre out,” complained Malaga defender Luis Hernandez
Barca, though, created precious little else before half-time and had to wait until 11 minutes into the second period to make the game safe when Lionel Messi teed up Andres Iniesta to fire into the top corner via the aid of a deflection.
“It was our third game in six days and we lacked a bit of freshness,” said Barca boss Ernesto Valverde.
“We had control but lacked a bit of penetration. I thought in the second-half we were better, played at a quicker tempo and quickly got the second goal.”
Luis Suarez should have rounded off the scoring, but somehow fired wide with the goal at his mercy after great work from Messi and Sergi Roberto.
An eighth defeat in nine games leaves Malaga still firmly rooted to the bottom of the table and coach Michel ever closer to the exit door.
Valencia remain Barca’s closest challengers after thrashing Sevilla 4-0 at Mestalla.
Paris Saint-Germain loanee Goncalo Guedes continued his sensational form by opening and rounding off the scoring in fine style.
In between times, Simone Zaza added his eighth Liga goal of the season before Santi Mina punished a slack Sevilla defence that has now conceded nine goals in five days after suffering a 5-1 rout at Spartak Moscow in the Champions League in midweek.
Nigeria’s Aruna Quadri, along with his Egyptian rival Omar Assar, on Friday progressed from the group stage of the 2017 ITTF World Cup in Belgium.
Despite losing one match in their groups, Quadri and Assar booked their places in the main draw of the competition, where they will meet seeded opponents.
The duo won a match each in Groups A and C to finish second. There were three players in each of the groups.
Quadri lost 4-3 to Korea’s Lee Sangsu and defeated American Kanak Jha with a 4-2 to finish second.
Assar started his campaign with a 4-3 win over Belgium’s Cedric Nuytinck but succumbed to 4-3 Russia’s Alexander Shibaev. The duo will compete in the Round of 16 today.
Meanwhile, Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov is hoping to win his first ITTF World Cup title.
“I have managed to win three World Tour titles and the European Cup. I had a hard defeat against Koki Niwa at the Worlds in the last 16, but still an amazing year so far and now we’re at the World Cup and we will see what happens,” he said.
Former Nigeria goalkeepers Joe Erico, Ike Shorunmu and Joseph Dosu have said the return to training of former Super Eagles captain, Vincent Enyeama, is not a threat to the Russia 2018 World Cup chances of Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Daniel Akpeyi, who played in the Eagles’ qualifiers.
Nigeria qualified for football’s showpiece event with a match to spare after beating Zambia 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier in Uyo earlier in October.
Eagles’ coach Gernot Rohr was faced with goalkeeping problems when Carl Ikeme, who had been the team’s first choice keeper since Enyeama’s retirement in 2015, was diagnosed with acute Leukaemia.
Enyeama has been approached by Rohr to return to the Eagles with the calls becoming persistent after Ikeme’s sickness.
But in April, the 35-year-old ruptured his knee in Lille’s 2-0 loss to Rennes – and has been replaced in this season’s games by Mike Maignan. Rohr has had to make a choice between South Africa-based Akpeyi and IfeanyiUbah’s Ezenwa, who have given different performances in the team’s recent Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifying matches.
However during the week, the former Enyimba goalkeeper announced his return to training with Lille’s first team on social media with videos of himself undergoing drills both with the team and alone as he works towards his return to form.
With Rohr saying a return to regular club action for Enyeama will open up a return to the Eagles, it is expected that his return to training would ring warning bells to Akpeyi and Ezenwa, who have alternated the starting role in recent matches.
But former Nigeria keepers Erico, Shorunmu and Dosu believe that Enyeama’s return would not hinder the chances of the other keepers in the team.
Erico said Enyeama’s return from injury was welcome but advised that the Eagles’ most-capped player should focus on his return to club form rather than having a return to the national team in mind.
“It is a good thing to read about Enyeama coming back from that long-term injury. I am happy for him but I would want him to focus on his club form and help his club out of their current situation rather than aiming for a return to the Eagles,” he said.
“No doubt he is experienced but his return is in no way a threat to the chances of the other keepers, particularly Ezenwa, who has performed very well in the matches he played in. The younger keepers fought tooth and nail to ensure Nigeria qualified for the World Cup, so they have more right to the starting shirt – if they maintain their forms – than Enyeama.”
Shorunmu, who Enyeama deputised at the Korea/Japan 2002 World Cup, advised the 2013 AFCON to be cautious of a return to the national team. He said, “Enyeama should not rush to return to the Eagles, where he left of his own will. He is not a threat to anybody because when he was not around the team did well with the goalkeepers performing well. He should focus on his return to form and get his good form back.
“If he then gets a call to the team for the World Cup on the form he is at the time, he can decide to take it. But the decision to recall him rests on the coach of the team.”
But Dosu believed Enyeama should not be forced out of retirement. The Atlanta 1996 Olympics gold medallist said, “The media has been awash for months on Enyeama’s return to the Eagles but the keeper has yet to make any statement on it. Rather he has focused on his club form, which I believe is more important.
“I have always said that he should not be forced out of retirement because he made the decision himself. The keepers in the team are doing well and Enyeama’s return or not does not stop their chances of doing well at the World Cup.”
Meanwhile, Eagles assistant coach, Alloy Agu, said Enyeama would not walk into the team’s starting line-up whenever he decides to return.
“We’re comfortable with our goalkeepers. So, should Enyeama return, he will have to fight for his place in the team. There will be no automatic shirts for any player,” Agu was quoted as saying by Score Nigeria.