Dalung Wants NFF To Put Off Its Elections

Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung has called on the Nigeria Football Federation to put off its election  billed for September to enable the NFF concentrate on the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Dalung noted that the Federal government has invested so much towards qualifying and achieving a respectable World Cup result, stressing that a call for purchase of forms and setting up of an electoral committee at this time was a distraction to the team’s preparation. Dalung “The NFF should put everything concerning elections and electoral committees on hold and concentrate on the World Cup preparation which is more important to the passion of the country. “The country has invested so much right from the campaign for a ticket till date so we cannot afford any distractions in the name of elections. “The World Cup and elections cannot be pursued concurrently, therefore all issues on the next elections into the NFF board should be suspended pending the outcome of legal advice from the Attorney- General on the decision of the Supreme Court on the current crises in the Federation.”


Champions League: Guardiola Vows To Attack Liverpool

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola promised to stick by his principles and attack Liverpool in their Champions League quarter-final first leg on Wednesday, despite admitting he is playing into his opponents’ hands, AFP reports.

Liverpool are the only side to beat runaway leaders City in the Premier League this season in a 4-3 thriller at Anfield in January.

The hosts’ fearsome front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane were all on target that day as part of their combined tally of 75 goals this season.

However, Guardiola’s bold brand of attacking football has been accompanied by success everywhere he has gone in a stellar coaching career from Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now at City.

And he believes that is the best way for City to reach just their second ever Champions League semi-final, but the eighth in his nine seasons as a top-flight coach.

“I know the way we play is perfect for Liverpool because they are a team that attack the space unlike any other team in the world, especially Mane, Salah, Firmino, they are so good,” said Guardiola on Tuesday.

“But I feel the best way to win is the way we try to do since we were here.”

No opposing manager has beaten Guardiola more times than Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. In 12 previous meetings, Klopp has six wins to Guardiola’s five.

Klopp was keen to play down the significance of that record, but Guardiola hailed their shared spirit to entertain.

“Both teams try to play. We are the teams that scored the most goals in Premier League this season by far,” added Guardiola.

“I think Jurgen Klopp teams are honest teams that respect what football means. They try to attack and of course we are going to try to (do the same). I’m sure tomorrow is going to be a good game.”

City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne described the sides’ January meeting as a “crazy game” that was “beautiful for the neutral”.



Messi, Busquets For Roma Clash

Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets are both set to return for Barcelona in their Champions League quarter-final first leg against Roma at the Camp Nou on Wednesday, AFP reports.

Messi sat out Argentina’s two friendlies over the international break with a hamstring problem and only came off the bench against Sevilla on Saturday, when he scored an 89th-minute equaliser.

However, he trained on Tuesday, along with Busquets, who has not played since fracturing his toe against Chelsea three weeks ago. Both have been included in Barca’s 18-man squad.

 “He’s better than the other day,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said about Messi’s fitness on Tuesday.

On Busquets, Valverde added: “Today he’s fine, tomorrow (Wednesday) he’ll be even better. He’s a very important player for us as he is for the Spanish team, we know his level and we hope to be able to count on him tomorrow (Wednesday).”

Valverde was also asked about the future of defender Samuel Umtiti, whose contract talks with Barcelona are yet to reach a positive conclusion.

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Big Baby Dares Joshua To Fight In America

Anthony Joshua has been dared to fight in America by Jarrell ‘Big Baby’ Miller, who has taunted “he’s not as powerful as he thinks”.

Joshua has long been linked with a Stateside debut although, moments after beating Joseph Parker at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday to unify the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight belts, he claimed,  “We’re staying right here.”

Unbeaten New York contender Miller has mocked those words and invited Joshua to box in his home city this summer.

 “Hell yeah, I will welcome him to New York. We can make the fight happen,” Miller exclusively told Skysports.

“He is definitely taking (American fighters)  lightly because he had a good experience with Charles Martin.

“It’s hilarious. Who have I fought to earn a title shot? Who did AJ fight to earn a title shot? Hilarious.”

Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn indicated that Miller was a future option last month, telling Skysports,  “Jarrell Miller is a real possibility.

“He’s a threat. He’s got a great engine, he’s got great work-rate as well and he’s confident that he beats  Joshua.

“We feel like we need to go out and make a defence in the US.”

Miller is ranked No 3 by the IBF, WBA and WBO – the belts that Joshua now holds – but must first aim to stay unbeaten in his 22nd fight, against Johann Duhaupas, this month.



Okagbare To Shun 100m, 200m At Commonwealth Games

blessing Okagbare will not defend her sprints double titles at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia  as she will feature in only the women’s 4x100m relays, according to information on the competition’s website.

Okagbare won the women’s 100m and 200m titles at Glasgow 2014  and has been expected to defend both titles in Australia.

The 29-year-old  on Saturday set a new African record in the 200m after she ran 22.04secs in her first race of the season at the Wes Kittley Invitational Track and Field Meet at the Abilene Christian University on Sunday to erase the 22-year-old previous African record of 22.07secs set by Mary Onyali in Switzerland in 1996.

The website on Wednesday listed Isoken Igbinosun, Jennifer Madu, Rosemary Chukwuma, Tobi Amusan and Joy Udo-Gabriel as the athletes to complete  for Nigeria in  4x100m relay.

Igbinosun, Madu and Chukwuma were listed to represent the country in the 100m while there was no entry for the women in the 200m.

However, athletics coach Olawale Olatunji said the rule for the Games allows  athletes to be registered 24 hours before the commencement of the event.

“The information on the website is not final. The rules for the Commonwealth Games are flexible and the final list of registered athletes for an event would only be confirmed 24 hours before the event starts. Except the rules changes in Gold Coast, which I doubt,” he said.

“Blessing can still compete in the two events. Only when the start lists are released and her name is missing that we can confirm she is not competing in the events.”



Rohr Slams Iwobi As Mikel, Ekong Make Eagles Vow

Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr has slammed Alex Iwobi’s performance in the  Super Eagles’ 2-0 defeat to  a disciplined Serbia in a pre-World Cup preparatory affair in London on Tuesday, criticising the Arsenal forward for showboating in the encounter.

Three-time African champions Nigeria, who defeated  Poland 1-0  in a friendly in Wroclaw on Friday,  were punished  for their defensive mistakes by Fulham  striker  Aleksandar Mitrovic, who scored the two second-half goals for  his  Russia 2018 World Cup-bound side.

The Eagles take on Congo in Abuja or Uyo on May 28, travel to London to face  England at Wembley  on June 2 and  Czech Republic on June 6 before the World Cup kicks off on  June 14.

Iwobi’s   goal-bound volley  was blocked by veteran  defender Aleksandar Kolarov, who swapped Manchester City for Roma last year.

The 21-year-old’s showmanship  slowed down  Nigeria’s attack after dropping into a midfield role in the second half.

“With us all the time he’s very good, already in Poland (where Nigeria won 1-0) and he was fantastic,” Rohr was quoted by  Standard Sport as saying on Wednesday.

“Perhaps some times (he did) a little too much individually, he wanted to make a show. We prefer collective football.”

The 64-year-old former Gabon coach added, “But when he can eliminate his opponent it’s very good (for us). He’s with us all the time in confidence. He’s free when he has the ball.

“I don’t know what the tactical options of Arsene Wenger are when he’s with Arsenal but with us he’s free offensively and he can show all his qualities.”

Meanwhile, Nigeria captain Mikel Obi and defender William Troost-Ekong say they have put the London defeat behind them and focused on Nigeria’s future  games.

China-based midfielder Mikel missed both the Poland and Serbia fixtures due to his work permit issue in the Asian nation.

“You don’t lose, you learn. Looking forward to being back on the pitch for our remaining preparation games #SoarSuperEagles,” the former Chelsea star wrote on his Twitter page on Wednesday.

Bursaspor star Troost-Ekong  wrote on Twitter, “End of a good camp with the Super Eagles. We keep working and improving. Thanks everyone for your support.”



African Players Should Storm China For Money – Ighalo

Former Watford striker Odion Ighalo has been pleasantly surprised by the quality of football in China and says that he would encourage other players to make the move, Hertfordshire Mercury reports.

The 28-year-old left the Hornets in January 2017 to join Chinese Super League side Changchun Yatai for £20m.

The Nigeria forward  bagged 15 goals in 27 games during his debut season, having netted 20 and 16 goals in his first two seasons at Vicarage Road, in the Championship and Premier League respectively.

The transition for Ighalo has been smooth but he believes the division is always getting stronger.

The former Hornet played in Nigeria, Norway, Italy, Spain and England before heading to China and he reckons other African players should give the country a chance.

Ighalo  told  BBC Sport,  “If the opportunity jumps on them and they think properly about it, they should go because it’s an opportunity to make some money, play in Asia and to experience the life and culture there.

“Moving from England to China is a different life, the time difference, the way they live, the food, so it’s totally different from what I had experienced but for me it’s normal.

“Every country you go to play, you experience different and new things. I have played in six countries so it’s not new to me.”

He said, “Before I went there, people were saying the level of the Chinese League is very low and you are going to score a lot of goals.

“When I got there I saw a different football game. There are a lot of foreign coaches and foreign players improving the league and the league is getting tougher and stronger.

“Football in China is still growing. I have played a season and this is my second season. I am enjoying the life there and the football.

“When I went there I was expecting a lower class of the league but when I arrived I saw how tough it is and said this is not what I had heard about.

“This is not what people were talking about. It’s tough and it’s difficult to score goals.”



Nigerians Suffer Humiliating Defeats At Lagos Squash Classics

More Nigerians  crashed out in the preliminary rounds of the 2018 Lagos International Squash Classics at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos on Tuesday.

The competition enters its main draw on Wednesday after the completion of the preliminary rounds on Tuesday.

Nigeria’s Adegoke Onaopemipo lost 3-0 in the second round to South Africa’s  Jean-Pierre  Brits   while Abdurahaman Yusuf lost 3-0 to Egypt’s  Ahmed Hosny in the same round.

Femi Shedara lost 3-0 to Pakistan’s  Abdulmalik Khan while Brits    defeated Nigeria’s Sodiq Taiwo 3-2. Kehinde Samuel also lost 3-0 to Sean Conroy of Ireland.

In the women’s category, Yemisi Taiwo lost 3-0 to Idowu Ogunyemi in one of the preliminary rounds.

In the men’s main draw, Karim  Fathi of Egypt takes on Sebastien Bonmalais of France   on Wednesday while Joe Green of England takes on fellow Englishman Angus Gilams.

Brits takes on Mohamed El Sherbini of Egypt in another tie while India’s Aadit Zaveri faces  Egypt’s  Karim El Hammary. Egypt’s Mohamed Reda tackles Portugal’s  Rui Soares.

Conroy battles Switzerland’s  Dimitris Steinmann for a place in the quarterfinals while the only Nigerian in the main draw Babatunde Ajagbe engages  Shehab Essam of Egypt. Hosny takes on countryman Mazen Gamal in the last match.

In the women’s main draw, there are more Nigerians in action as top seed Eva Fertekova of the Czech Republic  clashes against Busayo Olatunji while Veronica Sunday takes on Dunni Okikiola and Salma Youssef of Egypt battles Faidat Soliu. Taiwo Ebilemi is up against Omolola Ajayi.

The Professional Squash Association-certified tournament as a prize money of $20,000 with the men playing for $15,000 while the women will share $5,000.

The competition ends on Saturday.


Usman Targets ABU Title At Gotv Boxing Night

The 14th GOtv Boxing Night will hold at  the National Stadium, Lagos, on April 14, organisers have announced. The announcement was made at a press conference in Lagos on Tuesday.

The event returns to the National Stadium, Lagos, after it was staged at the Landmark Centre in December.

GOtv Boxing Night 14 will feature seven bouts, including the African Boxing Union featherweight title bout between Nigeria’s Waidi ‘Skoro’ Usman and Michael ‘Shaka’ Nyawade of Kenya. Usman lost a bid to win the title to Edward Kakembo of Uganda in 2015.

“I lost the last time I had a shot at the African title and I apologise to my fans. This time, it’s going to be a different ball game. I want to put a smile on the faces of my fans and Nigerians by beating the Kenyan and winning the ABU featherweight title,” Usman stated.

The event will also feature the West African Boxing Union welterweight title bout between Rilwan ‘Babyface’ Babatunde and Djossou ‘Agoy’ Basile of the Republic of Benin.

Another title fight lined up will see Kazeem ‘Ijoba’ Badmus take on Rilwan ‘Real One’ Oladosu for the national lightweight title. The other fights will have Sulaimon Adeosun confront Ramon Adedoyin in a national light heavyweight challenge, Chukwuebuka ‘Wise King’ Ezewudo up against Kazeem Nofiu in a national welterweight challenge contest, while Prince ‘Lion’ Nwoye battles Oto ‘Joe Boy’ Joseph. Abiodun ‘Finito’ Afini and Ramon ‘Hyena’ Razak will also slug it out in a national cruiserweight challenge bout.

The best boxer at the event will go home with N1m cash prize attached to the Mojisola Ogunsanya Memorial Trophy.


Why I’m The Best In The World – Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo insists he is the best player in the world because he proves himself “year after year” with Real Madrid and Portugal, Eurosport.com reports.

Speaking after winning Portugal’s Best Player of 2017 – to go with the fifth Ballon d’Or which equalled Lionel Messi’s haul – Ronaldo, 33, said he was determined to succeed for his children.

Ronaldo scored 42 goals in 46 games in 2016/17, helping Real Madrid win La Liga and the Champions League. He has netted 37 goals in 35 games so far this term to help Los Blancos reach the Champions League quarter-finals, where they will face Juventus next month.

“I am grateful for this award to all those who are here, it is also an award for all my colleagues; 2017 was an excellent year, unforgettable both collectively and individually,” said Ronaldo, who beat Rui Patricio of Sporting Lisbon and Manchester City’s Bernardo Silva. “I also won my fifth Ballon d’Or and my second The Best award. I also dedicate it to my four children. That’s another record – three children in three months.

“We have to defend what is ours because there is always a Portuguese in the fight.

“I always believe and say that I am the best, whatever they say, and then I show it in the field. We are in the fight year after year.”

Meanwhile, recent Spanish media reports claiming  Ronaldo has been negotiating a deal to avoid prison due to his tax arrears are “just noise and smoke” rising now as the judge may be about to move the case forward to trial, a source at the Spanish tax authority has told ESPN FC.

Various Madrid-based publications have claimed to have inside information on the case in which prosecutors at Spain’s tax agency maintain that several companies in Ireland and the British Virgin Islands were used by Ronaldo, the Real Madrid forward, and his advisors to avoid paying at least €14.7 m  in taxes due on image rights income.

El Mundo reported that Ronaldo’s camp offered a “blank cheque” to the tax authorities in exchange for dropping criminal charges and the withdrawal of a potential custodial prison sentence, and AS reported that tax authorities had rejected a settlement offer of €3.8m from Ronaldo’s advisors, as officials are demanding a total of €25.7m in back-taxes and fines.

Europa Press reported they had been informed by the tax authority, AEAT, that Ronaldo’s case was still being treated as “criminal” despite efforts by the Portugal captain’s legal team to have it instead viewed as a misdemeanour.