Super Eagles’ Coach, Gernot Rohr is faced with one of his toughest decision as a Coach but has decided to leave it late before naming the goalkeeper that would man the post for the Eagles against the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in the qualifying series of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations holding in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The Franco-German Coach could not hide fact that the three goalkeepers in camp namely Ikechukwu Ezenwa, Daniel Akpeyi and Theophilus Afelokhai have been very impressive in training and the choice already narrowed to Ezenwa and Akpeyi has also proved difficult to make a choice.
The Coach however told Sportinglife.ng that he would leave it very late to pick the goalkeeper that would be in goal against South Africa on Saturday. The South Africa based Akpeyi may be picked after all because he is more familiar with the terrain, players and everything.
“There is a logic of group for EZENWA. He has the experience of two Cameroon games and one in Algeria. Akpeyi knows the South Africans very well….We will decide in the last moment”, Rohr said.
Villarreal teenage sensation Samuel Chukwueze has fired a subtly warning to South Africa ahead of their crucial African Cup of Nations clash with Nigeria at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The in-form 19-year-old has been called up to bolster the Super Eagles attack thanks to his impressive performance for the Yellow Submarines which has seen him cement his place in the team’s starting line-up after being promoted from the ‘B’ team.
Speaking in Asaba before the team departed South Africa, the former Arsenal target expressed his delight for the opportunity to play for the Super Eagles and vowed to give his best if called upon by coach Genert Rohr to ensure Nigeria book the group’s sole ticket to the 2019 AFCON holding in Cameroon.
He said: “I’m very happy to be called up to represent my country, it’s a very big honour and I thank the coach for believing in me. I feel at home in the team and it’s great to have my friends from the Golden Eaglets Kelechi (Nwakali) and Victor (Osimhen) also in the squad.
“I know the match is a very crucial one against a tough side, but we’re also a very strong team so I believe we can get the needed result.
“The most important thing is for the team to win and to make ourn country proud but if I get the opportunity I’ll do my best just like I’ve been doing at my club to help Nigeria qualify,” Chukwueze concluded.
Chukwueze is a former junior international who alongside Kelechi Nwakali and Victor Osimhen helped Nigeria win the 2015 U17 World Cup in Chile where he bagged the Bronze Boot.
The 19-year-old Nigerian is not shy to get on the ball as the stats show from his first two games in La Liga, firing off a total of 10 shots and completing five of his 10 dribble attempts.
Super Eagles late Friday trained at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg ahead of the AFCON qualifiers against Bafana Bafana on Saturday.
The Eagles, who landed at the Rainbow Nation early Friday aboard a chartered plane from their training camp in Asaba, were reportedly very confident at during the shape up activities at the FNB, ahead of the tie which their opponents have described as a revenge mission that will not be allowed to come to pass.
Meanwhile Bafana Bafana defender Sifiso Hlanti has charged his teammates to forget about permutations and concentrate as they cannot afford to leave loopholes. He admitted that the homers will be playing under pressure but noted that pressure in matches of this nature is normal. He particularly urged his fellow defenders to ensure effective communication on the pitch as that will be the only way of checkmating rampaging Eagles.
“I think the most important thing is communication and understanding of how we play” he told kickoff.
A cross section of fans who spoke to Sportinglife.ng on Friday ahead of what has been dubbed “Weekend of soccer romance with South Africa” considering that both Super Eagles and Super Falcons will be facing South Africa on Saturday and Sunday respectively, said they expect Eagles to rise to the occasion
“The pressure is on South Africa not on Nigeria so we expect Super Eagles to have a good game and emerge victorious”, they enthused
One of the fans who simply identified himself as Benjamin revealed that he made a bet tipping Eagles to win by 2-0 while tipping Falcons to earn a 3-0 victory in Ghana.
Manchester City are currently in the driving seat in the premier league and rated as one of the favourites to win the UEFA Champions League which has given manager, Pep Guardiola leverage to demand for anything he wants.
The Spaniard has shocking informed Citizen chiefs that he is happy to limit his transfer spending over the next year to just one new signing, according to reports.
The Catalan coach has spent over £500m on new players since arriving at the Etihad Stadium in the summer of 2016, including £60m on club-record purchase Riyad Mahrez earlier this year.
According the London Evening Standard, Guardiola has been working on a list of possible targets for the January window, with a holding midfielder being prioritised.
However, the report indicates that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss is happy to bring in just one new face over the next two windows.
Ajax ace Frenkie de Jong and Ruben Neves of Wolverhampton Wanderers are said to be on Guardiola’s wishlist, while Tanguy Ndombele is another possible target after impressing for Lyon.
Man City missed out on Fred and Jorginho during the summer, as rivals Manchester United and Chelsea quickly pounced.
The Nitto ATP world tour semi-final is set with the top two seeds Djokovic and Federer avoiding each other following Alexander Zevrev straight sets 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 victory over No 8 seed John Isner. Zverev’s win means Novak Djokovic is through as group winner.Third seed Zverev will play Roger Federer in the semi-finals on Saturday.
The Serbian world number one, who meets Marin Cilic in his final match on Friday, will play South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in the last four on Saturday. With the ‘big four’ of Federer, Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray all in their 30s, Zverev has long been identified as the young player most likely to fill the void when they retire.
The 21-year-old is yet to make a meaningful impact in the Grand Slams but, after adding eight-time major champion Ivan Lendl to his team, has reached the last four at the O2 for the first time. Now, with Federer and possibly Djokovic standing in his way, back-to-back victories over the weekend would announce his arrival to a wider audience. After showing mental resilience to edge past Cilic in his opening match, Zverev knew any victory against Isner would guarantee his place in the last four, despite being outclassed by Djokovic in his second.
As with the Cilic match, he delivered on the big points against the American to win a match in which there was little between the two players.
Isner out-served and knocked out
Zverev delivered an 143mph ace to wipe out a set point at 6-5 – the only break point of the first set – and went on to earn a hold which took the opener into a tie-break and ultimately proved pivotal. Isner knew he had to win to stay in the tournament, with a two-set victory his only hope of reaching the semi-finals, but mistimed a forehand into the net on Zverev’s second set point. The 6ft 10in American’s game is unsurprisingly built around his massive serve but he was outgunned by Zverev, who had a faster serve speed, higher first-serve percentage and more aces. And, after Zverev took his first break point at 4-4 in the second, victory was quickly wrapped up with a hold to love and allowed him to start thinking about facing Federer.
“I’m unbelievably happy to be in the semi-finals,” Zverev said. “I’ve had such a good run over the last year. “John was such a tough opponent and the last two matches could have gone either way for him. The first set was unbelievably tight. It’s always one or two points against him. “I came up with some great shots in the tie-break as well and that helped because don’t want to be down with him serving for the set.”
An unprecedented match-up between boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr and a Japanese kickboxer half his age is back on, according to the Japanese promoter behind the fight.
The bout between Mayweather and Tenshin Nasukawa, first announced earlier this month, was abruptly scrapped by the American boxer shortly after he revealed his plans to take on the kickboxer.
But on Friday, the CEO of mixed martial arts promotor RIZIN said the fight planned for New Year’s Eve was back on.
“Misunderstanding with Floyd Mayweather has been resolved. He will face off against Tenshin Nasukawa on December 31, New Year’s Eve,” Nobuyuki Sakakibara tweeted on his account.
“I will talk about the details at a press conference when I return to Japan,” he added, alongside a picture of himself, Mayweather, and a third man.
The tweet comes after Mayweather told the US website TMZ Sports on Wednesday in California that the fight would go ahead.
“We’re going to make it happen. It’s a no-brainer,” he reportedly told the site.
When the fight was first announced, it was unclear what rules would govern the match-up between the retired welterweight boxer and Nasukawa, an unbeaten kickboxer. But Mayweather told TMZ Sport the face-off would involve “no kicking.”
“Rules? It’s going to be a little boxing exhibition. I’m moving around with the guy for nine minutes, and of course it’s going be the highest paid exhibition ever,” he added.
The unbeaten 41-year-old, who won world titles in five different weight divisions, made headlines earlier this month when he announced on his Instagram page that he was coming out of retirement for the fight.
“I want to give the people what they want — blood, sweat and tears,” he told a news conference in Tokyo afterwards.
But just two days later he posted a lengthy statement on his social media accounts saying he had been “blindsided” by organisers of the bout and had “never agreed” to the fight.
England manager Phil Neville has “banned” captain Steph Houghton from playing against their next international match so she can earn her 100th cap at home three days later against Sweden.
Neville said he wanted the occasion to be a “celebration” of her international career on home soil in Rotherham.
“Steph won’t be involved on Thursday. She wants to play but we told her no,” said Neville.
Striker Fran Kirby and midfielder Keira Walsh miss out through injury.
“I wanted to make Sunday a special day because she [Houghton] has earned it,” said Neville. “She deserves it so she will be rested and it can be a celebration of her England international career.
“She actually doesn’t want it to be about her because she is so humble and she wanted to make her 100th cap in Austria. But we have almost banned her from playing. It is very doubtful she will even be on the bench.”
Barcelona winger Toni Duggan will captain the side in Houghton’s absence, while Chelsea’s Karen Carney and Manchester City’s Mel Lawley replace injured duo Kirby and Walsh.
Kirby, who has been nominated for Fifa’s Ballon d’Or award, scored in England’s 1-0 win over Brazil and the 1-1 draw with Australia last month.
Since making her debut in 2005, forward Carney has earned 134 caps. Midfielder Lawley broke into the England team just over a year ago and will be hoping to add to her nine caps.
Neville has three new faces in his squad for the friendlies, including former United States Under-23 forward Chioma Ubogagu, who is on loan at Brisbane Roar from Orlando Pride.
Manchester City forward Georgia Stanway and goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck have also made the squad for the first time.
‘She doesn’t realise the respect she has’
Duggan, signed by Barcelona from Manchester City in July 2017, became the first English player to join the Catalan club since Gary Lineker’s move to the Nou Camp in 1986.
The forward has 58 caps, the latest of them in the 1-1 friendly draw with Australia in October, and is expected to be an integral part of Neville’s World Cup squad this summer.
The 27-year-old will captain England for the first time against Austria on Thursday and Neville says she is yet to “realise the kind of respect she has” among her team-mates.
“It is a challenge for Toni,” said Neville. “When I first saw her, I saw an experienced player with great knowledge and underneath it all, a great leader.
“I felt as if this was the right moment to say well done. To captain your team is an honour. I wanted to send a message to her that she is one of the most important members of my team and the look in her eyes was a special moment. She is really looking forward to it.
“She doesn’t know what to do and doesn’t know her responsibilities but I told her just to wing it.”
Special moment between Neville siblings
Neville linked up with sister Tracey to combine his training camp this week with her Commonwealth gold medal-winning netball squad.
The Lionesses’ boss described it as a “proud moment” when he spoke in front of his sister and revealed both teams played football, netball and tennis together and “didn’t want to leave”.
The idea was discussed over lunch but Neville admitted he originally agreed only “to pacify Tracey” and was “worried” about how both teams would act when they came together.
“We have both been on similar paths,” said Neville. “What I wanted was for them to tell us their journey and how they became the best netball team in the Commonwealth.
“The power in the room, the confidence and the leadership was incredible. The players didn’t want to leave each other. They were dancing and singing. The spirit between them both and the respect… two of the best sports team in the country were in the room and it was a special moment to share that with my sister.
“When I stood up to speak and she was looking right at me, it was a proud moment. The evening went really well. We learnt a lot about each other’s company and culture.”
England’s first choice goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, who is also the number one shot-stopper for his club, Everton, has a record of stopping shots from the spot kicks, it is now revealed what the 24 year old uses to guess penalty shots.
It was not necessary on this occasion, but Pickford, goalkeeper of the England national team, showed again that he remains true to his habit of scoring the places of penalty shots of the opponents in his bottle of water.
Several snapshots taken during the match between England and the United States showed that the current Everton goalkeeper had planned which side of the goal the American players were going to shoot, in case there were penalty shots.
This particular method to guess the shots in the maximum penalties was known and already took effect in the shootout of the match of the 2018 World Cup against Colombia.
The governorship candidate of the APC in Ogun State has dismissed suggestions that he bribed the national chairman of the party in other to become the candidate in Ogun State in the 2019 elections.
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, has denied allegation that he offered money to bribe the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, to influence the outcome of governorship primary in the state.
Abiodun, reacting to a media report (not in the Sun) that he gave Oshiomhole a huge sum of money to enable him emerge as the APC governorship candidate in Ogun, refuted the allegation in a statement on Friday, in Abeokuta, by Emmanuel Ojo, Assistant Media Director, Dapo Abiodun Campaign Organisation (DACO).
According to the statement, the allegation was a smear campaign and deliberate attempt to rubbish the mandate freely and legitimately given to him by members of the party, during the direct primary exercise conducted by the National Working Committee (NWC) election committee on October 3, 2018.
It added that Abiodun, as a law abiding citizen and loyal party member, will never engage in any compromised process and insisted the governorship candidate at no time offered monetary inducement to party officials either at the state or national level, to skew the outcome of the primary election in his favour.
While maintaining that the allegation was untrue, the statement commended the national chairman of APC, Oshiomole, for his steadfastness and unwavering stand on due process, DACO, however, expressed its vote of confidence in Oshiomhole’s national leadership.
The statement reads in part: “We wish to state unequivocally, that Dapo Abiodun does not believe in a compromised process and at no time was any party official, either from the state, regional or national level, was given any money by him to influence the peaceful and legitimate governorship primaries in Ogun State.
“We wish to state further that this allegation is a figment of the imagination of those making the claims, while we continue to commend the strict, fair and incorruptible nature of the Comrade Adams Oshiomole leadership.
“Finally, we advise the general public to discountenance this propaganda against Abiodun as there is no iota of truth in the apparently sponsored report which is targeted at blackmailing him and putting in jeopardy his political aspiration”.
The controversy of the APC primaries rages on and it now but will the national chairman’s resignation put everything to rest?
Real Madrid have been dealt with an injury blow to the club captain, Sergio Ramos, who picked up an injury on international duty with the Spanish national duty, in the match they lost to Croatia, in the UEFA Nations League.
Spain captain Sergio Ramos will miss his country’s weekend friendly against Bosnia and Herzegovina with a groin problem, and is to return to Real Madrid.
Ramos was carrying the complaint when I joined the squad for international week, with qualification for the UEFA Nations League finals up for grabs in Thursday’s clash with Croatia, I opted to play through the pain in Zagreb – where his goal from the penalty spot could not prevent La Roja from losing 3-2.
The reverse means the Spaniards now need England and Croatia to draw in Sunday’s final Nations League Group A4 fixture if they are to progress to the last four.
After speaking to Spain coach Luis Enrique following the narrow defeat to the Croats, Ramos is back to his club for treatment on the injury, which is the last to affect Madrid’s backline.
Nacho and Reguilón ruled out by injuries suffered in Vigo
Jesus Vallejo, Raphael Varane, Dani Carvajal and Marcelo have just returned to training after spells out – with all four expected to be available to Madrid coach Santiago Solari after the international break – while Nacho Fernandez and Sergio Reguilón are to miss two months and two weeks, respectively, after suffering injuries in the LaLiga win at Celta Vigo on Sunday.