Lampard Focused On Finishing Third Rather Than Crowning Liverpool

Chelsea’s English head coach Frank Lampard gestures during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge in London on December 14, 2019.
OLLY GREENWOOD / AFP

 

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard will happily play a part in crowning Liverpool champions for the first time in 30 years, but only because it would mean his side have taken points from Manchester City on Thursday.

Should Liverpool beat Crystal Palace on Wednesday, City will need to win at Stamford Bridge to keep the title race alive for another week before they host Liverpool on July 2.

Chelsea are in need of the points themselves to cement their place in the top four, with Lampard keen to catch Leicester in third before the season is over.

“I have had absolutely no thought of Liverpool’s situation, it makes no odds to us at all,” said Lampard.

“We respect Liverpool and Manchester City as two fantastic teams, in the last two to three seasons they’ve been dominant, but we can only look at what this match means for us.”

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Chelsea famously played a big part on the night Leicester clinched the league in the 2015/16 season, coming from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 against Tottenham in what became dubbed “The Battle of the Bridge” after nine of the Spurs side were booked.

“I don’t think you can compare a Chelsea-Tottenham game to potentially stop Tottenham winning the league,” added Lampard on the rivalry between the London sides.

“I am aware of the situation, but I can only focus on us.

“We have a job to do and our job is to go up against one of the best teams in the world over the last few seasons and try to get a result.”

AFP

Bello Wins National Women Singles Table Tennis Championship

National Women Singles Table Tennis Open Champion, Fatima Bello.

 

Champion of the All African games trial, Fatimo Bello has emerged winner of the National Women Singles Table Tennis Open Championship.

The competition hosted by the Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos saw Bello fight her way into the final.

Luck smiled on her after beating the likes of national player, Cecilia Otu-Akpan as well as returnee Ganiat Aruna to set up a final clash against former junior champion – Tosin Oribamise.

Despite not having the chance to compete in international tournaments like her opponent in the final – Oribamise, Bello made nonsense of the experience of her opponent.

READ ALSO: National Women Singles Open Serves Off On Friday

Oribamise who is considered to be Nigeria’s most travelled and experienced player in recent times, was no match to Bello who thrashed the Ekiti State-born Oribamise 4-0 (11 -7, 11-6, 11-8, 11-4) to take home the N200,000 star prize money.

An excited Bello said she is determined to make the Nigeria team to the 2019 All Africa Games in Morocco.

“I’m very happy and excited about the victory. This is going to help me a lot because I won’t stop training and continue to work hard.

Training is the key to my success and hopeful I will continue to win. I actually started training two months ago for the trials and this Women Singles championship and I was expecting to win, so it is not something surprising.

As the first winner of this tournament which means I’m one of the best players in Nigeria, I will like to play abroad and do all my possible best if I get the opportunity. I’m looking forward to playing for the National team and excel with the team,” she said.

The tournament sponsored by the NTTF President, Ishaku Tikon had a major objective to rate female players and select team for major championships and the NTTF boss admitted that the objectives of the tournament were achieved.

“We have gotten the result of why we staged the competition. A new queen has emerged and the line-up according to their ranking has also been established, we are good to go and we are prepared to conquer Africa and we are on our way to dominating table tennis in the region,” Tikon said.

For the former President of NTTF, Wahid Oshodi, the performance of the players was encouraging and with constant training and regular competitions, the players would be ready to compete with the best.

Ronaldo Savours Happy Moment As Real Celebrate European Triumph

Real Madrid’s French coach Zinedine Zidane (R) celebrates with Real Madrid’s Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo after winning the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 26, 2018.
FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

As Cristiano Ronaldo milked every last drop of his moment on the microphone at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday night, it was hard to imagine this was a player about to leave Real Madrid.

Real’s players were introduced one-by-one onto the podium and when Ronaldo’s moment came, a gap left after “Cristiano” for the delirious fans to fill, he predictably made the most of it.

A Portugal flag draped over his shoulders, Ronaldo pirouetted before counting out on his fingers to five, the number of Champions League titles he now owns.

He pulled out the badge on his shirt and kissed it, twice, before blowing a few more kisses to the crowd. By now they were chanting “Cristiano” and some of the Real players were joining in.

Even when Marcelo, the next one out, emerged, the grinning Ronaldo strutted back down the walkway to welcome him with the pair’s familiar celebratory dance.

This Ronaldo was almost unrecognisable from the one that had, less than 24 hours before, been prickly and restless, as he insisted he could leave Real, despite them just beating Liverpool to mark a third consecutive European triumph.

Even amid wrangling contract negotiations, a frosty relationship with president Florentino Perez, a perceived lack of support in his row with Spanish tax authorities and perhaps even jealousy over Real´s courting of Neymar, his timing was inexplicably bad.

Zinedine Zidane had summed up the mood. “I’m not thinking about that now,” he said.

Microphone in hand, however, Ronaldo was back at the centre of things on Sunday and this time his message was different.

“What can I say?” he said over the supporters’ cheers. “You have given us so much love in every single match. It’s an honour to play for the biggest club in the world, that’s the truth, it’s an honour.”

As the fans roared, Real’s players bounced around Ronaldo, chanting “Cristiano, quedate”, “Cristiano, stay”, and soon the whole stadium was singing too.

When Ronaldo resumed, the big screen briefly catching a stoney-faced Gareth Bale next to a beaming Casemiro, he said: “Thank you, this is very important to me. I am so happy with your passion, the passion of the players and coaches.

“What I like most is winning. So for one last time, one, two three – Hala Madrid!”

Earlier, in the Plaza de Cibeles, he had signed off a more modest speech with: “Thank you guys and see you next year.”

At euphoric events like these, there must always be a pull to draw the biggest cheer, but Ronaldo’s behaviour at least suggests Real could satisfy the 33-year-old if they want to.

He reportedly seeks a new deal in line with Lionel Messi’s at Barcelona and Neymar’s at PSG.

But Perez was not impressed by Ronaldo’s posturing on Saturday. “We hear the same every summer,” Perez said. “And then nothing happens.”

In 2012, Ronaldo said he was “sad” and last year, Portugese newspaper A Bola claimed the forward wanted to leave, unhappy with the club not backing him in the face of tax investigators.

Perez and Ronaldo need each other, but neither will want to be seen to have lost the argument. At the very least, Real’s celebrations showed nothing has been decided yet.

AFP

Chelsea Paying For Champions League Gain – Hazard

Hazard Inspires Chelsea To Win Big At West Brom
Chelsea’s Belgian midfielder Eden Hazard celebrates scoring his goal 
Roland Harrison / AFP

Chelsea playmaker Eden Hazard believes the English champions’ defence of their title was always going to be compromised by a return to Champions League football this season.

Despite the Belgian’s 13th goal of the season, Chelsea crumbled to a 4-1 defeat at Watford on Monday night to remain fourth in the Premier League, 19 points adrift of runaway leaders Manchester City.

“I think the Premier League is difficult. It is hard to win every year,” Hazard told ESPN FC.

“Last year we didn’t have the Champions League. This year we have less time to be ready for the games. Every week there are three games.”

Despite speculation intensifying over his future, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte dismissed suggestions of tiredness for his side’s struggles as an excuse.

“The winner finds a solution, the loser finds excuses. In my life I like to be a winner and I am a winner,” said the Italian.

However, with his job on the line, Chelsea face a season defining few weeks after West Brom’s visit to Stamford Bridge on Monday.

A home tie against Hull City in the FA Cup fifth round is followed by the visit of Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie on February 20, before trips to both Manchester United and City in the league and then the return Champions League leg at the Camp Nou on March 14.

Conte has repeatedly voiced his displeasure at the club’s recruitment strategy following the departure of key players in Chelsea’s title-winning campaign such as Diego Costa and Nemanja Vidic.

Tiemoue Bakayoko’s poor first season in England following a big money move from Monaco continued as he was sent-off after just half an hour at Watford, whilst club record signing Alvaro Morata has struggled to fill Costa’s shoes due to a mixture of inconsistent form and injury.

However, with no side having retained the Premier League since 2009, Hazard believes it is the unpredictability of England’s top flight that makes it so attractive to players and fans around the world.

“We changed a couple of things, we lost players, we brought some new ones and every year is different,” he added.

“That’s why we love football, if there is only one team that wins it would be boring.

“That’s why football is special. You never know what’s going to happen, especially in England.”

AFP

Flamingoes in Good Form For World Cup

Nigeria U17 teamThe U17 Women National Team, Flamingoes have shown a rich vein of form as preparations hit new gear for the 5th FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup starting in Jordan on September 30.

Coach Bala Nikyu’s girls displayed ferocious form with three wins in three successive friendly matches in Abuja between Tuesday and Saturday.

On Tuesday, Sure Babes FC of Ilorin were the victims as Captain Rasheedat Ajibade, the team’s top scorer, hit two goals in a 4-0 win at the NFF/FIFA Goal Project pitch, in a match watched by NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, NFF Technical Director, Mr. Bitrus Bewarang and Assistant Director (Technical), Siji Lagunju.

Cynthia Aku and Patricia Innocent got the other goals.

On Thursday, the Flamingoes pipped Confluence Queens of Kogi 1-0 at the same venue, thanks to Cynthia Aku, who slotted in after the Queens’ goaltender failed to deal appropriately with a fierce shot by Captain Ajibade.

Against QFL (Queens Football League) All-Stars on Saturday, the Flamingoes went goal-wire, hitting the opposition 8-1. Ajibade was on song with a hat–trick, while Folashade Ijamilusi and Chidinma Okeke hit a brace each, and Cynthia Aku scored once.

Coach Nikyu said: “These matches have shown us exactly where we are, and we will continue to work on our weak areas. Our target is to ensure that the girls play as a team, have good control of the ball and achieve better coordination on the field.

“We are also working on their confidence level. They need to approach each game with a level of confidence, without under-rating any team. Certainly, we are going to play more friendly matches before the World Cup.”

Nigeria will tackle Brazil, England and 2008 champions Korea DPR in the group stage at the 5th FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup, taking place in Jordan on September 30 to October 21, 2016.

The Flamingoes’ first match is against Brazil on 1st October, Nigeria’s Independence Day.

Arsenal Signs Alexis Sanchez

Sanchez1English Premier League side, Arsenal have signed Chile forward, Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona on a long-term contract for an undisclosed fee in what is believed to be £30million.

According to the club’s official website, the forward flew in from Spain to finalise personal terms and complete a medical. He is expected to join up with his new team-mates at the end of July, after spending some time on holiday following the World Cup.

The 25 year old opted for the Gunners ahead of league rivals, Liverpool and Italian Serie A champions, Juventus.

Liverpool, who were runners up in the league last season, were keen on recruiting the Chilean as part of the deal that is likely to take striker Luis Suarez from Anfield to the Nou Camp, but that is now expected to be a straight cash transfer.

Juventus had also shown strong interest in Sanchez but are reportedly closing in on Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata.

Sanchez, who has made 71 appearances for Chile, scoring 24 goals and helping his country reach the World Cup last 16 where they lost on penalties to Brazil, could not hide his joy of joining up with the gunners. Sanchez said: “I’m so happy to be joining Arsenal, a club which has a great manager, a fantastic squad of players, huge support around the world and a great stadium in London.

“I’m looking forward to meeting my new team-mates and to be playing for Arsenal in the Premier League and Champions League.

“I will give my best to Arsenal and want to make all the supporters happy.”

Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger says Sanchez is a fantastic player and would be a good addition to the team.

“As many people have seen during the World Cup this summer, Alexis is a fantastic footballer and we are delighted that he is joining us at Arsenal Football Club.

“Alexis will add power, creativity and much quality to our squad and we are all looking forward to him joining up with us in a few weeks.

“He has consistently produced top-quality performances at the highest level for a number of seasons now and we are all excited to see him integrate into the Arsenal squad. I’m sure all Arsenal supporters will join me in welcoming Alexis to our club.”

In a statement on the club’s official website, Sanchez’s squad number would be revealed soon through Arsenal’s official Instagram account. His move will give Liverpool’s Urugyuan forward, Luis Suarez the green light to sign for Barcelona for £75m.

The move from Anfield to the Nou Camp could be delayed until Friday, however, as they await further clarification over the striker’s four-month ban from FIFA.

Arsenal is also expected to announce the capture of Newcastle’s £11m right-back Mathieu Debuchy, who completed his medical on Monday.

In addition to pursuing the France right full back, the Gunners are still in the market for a holding midfielder and back-up goalkeeper.

Chelsea to loot for Eden Hazard as he decides future tonight

Chelsea are ready to capitalise on their Champions League success by making a big money move for Lille playmaker Eden Hazard who has attracted interest from across Europe with his displays this season, admitted recently that his future does not lie at the Stade Metropole.

Representatives of Manchester City and Manchester United are expected to hold talks with Lille; the Belgian’s agent was in London yesterday.

Blues owner Russian Roman Abramovich believes that a £30m fee will be enough for the 21 year old to move to Stamford Bridge and Hazard is expected to be offered £250,000 a week on a five year deal.

Chelsea will now be in contention for the signature of the 21-year old with the two Manchester clubs.

Abramovich and his chief executive Ron Gourlay will have to put together an attractive package to bring the Belgian international to West London for he stated earlier that he will possibly be moving to Manchester City next season.

Meanwhile, Eden Hazard was reported to have decided to make a final decision tonight as to whether he will be playing with Chelsea, Manchester United or English Premier League winners, Manchester City.

Hazard is a hot commodity in the market in the EPL, as he has played impressive football with Lille this season. In 37 games, Hazard has netted 17 goals, recorded 16 assists and got off 101 shots in the process.

Hazard is an elusive dribbler that is as quick as anyone in football in the attacking end of the pitch. At just 21 years of age, the young Belgian talent is among the world’s best footballers with his top-notch play.

His goal-scoring abilities and control of the ball are scary for opponents to have to handle to say the least. Hazard is as “hazardous” as they come with the ball in his possession.

With such developed and strong programs to choose from, there is no question Hazard will be able to prosper significantly well over the next several seasons.