FIBA Cup: Kano Pillars Advance To Semi-Finals

FIBA Cup: Kano Pillars Advance To Semi-Finals Nigeria’s Kano pillars have qualified for the semi-finals of the FIBA Africa Champions Cup in Cairo, Egypt.

The team fought back from a 9-point deficit to beat Algeria champions GS Petroliers 91 to 81 points in the quarter-finals.

The Algerians who started well took the first and second quarters 19 to 17 and 20 to 19 points.

Pillars however showed strong intent in the third and fourth quarters winning 28 to 19 points and 27 to 23 points.

Abubakar Usman kept his impressive form in the tournament recording 34 points with 2 assists and 7 rebounds.

Coach Sani Ahmed is expectant that the Kano Pillars would finish strong in Group A of the FIBA Cup.

Champions League: Atletico, Real Madrid Arrive For Milan Final

Champions League, Atletico, Real MadridThe city of Milan is getting ready for the final of the UEFA Champions League as arch rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid compete for the coveted trophy on Saturday evening.

Majority of the Spanish fans are expected to start arriving by air, rail and road on Saturday. Fans already arrived in Milan are hoping that they would see an exciting match.

10-time European champions, Real Madrid have arrived their Milan hotel ahead of the Champions League final against Atletico Madrid.

Cristiano Ronaldo was the first player off the bus and the Portuguese should be fit to play.

The Portuguese set alarm bells ringing on Tuesday when he ended training prematurely with a knock but was fit to train again the following day.

He has scored 16 goals in the competition this season.

Zinedine Zidane’s men are without defenders Raphael Varane and Alvaro Arbeloa for the game.

Meanwhile a crowd of Atletico Madrid fans gathered outside the Hotel Melia in Milan to also welcome their team as they arrived.

Atletico players briefly waved at a group of supporters, many dressed in the team’s jerseys and waving red and white flags, before entering their hotel.

While Madrid will be missing two players, Atletico have a clean bill of health.

It is a far cry from the dishevelled state in which Diego Simeone’s team arrived at the 2014 final, when they struggled with fitness after a long season and suffered key injuries.

The teams’ face off at the San Siro stadium is a repeat of the 2014 final in Lisbon which saw Real come from behind to win 4-1 after extra-time.

Champions League: Ronaldo Injury Scare Ahead Of Final

Champions League, RonaldoReal Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo says he will be fit to face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday after limping out of training.

Ronaldo left the pitch with a thigh problem following a clash with goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.

The Portuguese forward was seen showing his thigh to medical staff, receiving attention, he later described the injury as a minor scare.

“I had a small problem in the training session, a ‘sandwich’ (bocadillo) as they say in Spain. But tomorrow or the day after I will be fine,” he told reporters.

Ronaldo has not completed his last three training sessions.

Real Madrid boss, Zinedine Zidane has admitted that Ronaldo sat out a full training as a precaution.

“There will be no problem with that. We had a game among ourselves on Saturday and (Ronaldo) didn’t play, but (only) as a precaution as he felt something small.

“He is preparing for the final and I think we’ll be in good shape physically,” Zidane said.

Real Madrid Stars React To Champions League Final Qualification

Real MadridIn a repeat of the 2014 Lisbon final, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will meet each other at the San Siro on May 28 in the 2016 Champions League final.

Real Madrid beat Manchester City 1-0 to set up the all Spanish final for the second time in three seasons after a first-half own goal from Fernando was enough to secure a narrow win that barely reflected Real’s dominant.

It was a perfect night for Zinedine Zidane. He has just passed the four-month mark as Real Madrid coach and his team are now through to the Champions League final.

The Frenchman had the following to say about his team reaching the final in Milan; “I’m happy, not just for myself; it was a team effort. I’m happy for the players because what they did tonight was fantastic. We suffered because that always happens in semi-finals, but we’ve got through to the final and that is what is important for us.

“We won the game 1-0 and that shows that we had to dig in against a very strong side. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and can say that City didn’t do anything in the game. I think that they did a lot. We hardly allowed them any chances because we defended well and got things right tactically.”

On his part in the success; “I’m the coach of this team. For sure, I’m doing something right. But, it’s not just me, it’s down to everyone who works alongside me. The most important ones are the players, it’s them who allow us to enjoy the football.

“I love football and when I see them doing what they do, I’m happy. I suffer a bit more as a coach than I did as a player. I feel tense during the games. We’ve got to enjoy these moments.”

Important Goal

Madrid went ahead in the first half when Bale picked up Dani Carvajal’s pass and aimed a cross towards the far post that was deflected by Fernando past Joe Hart into the top corner.

He said of the goal that has been credited as an own goal, “The most important thing was to get the goal and that the ball ended up in the net. It doesn’t matter who scores it, the only thing that matters is that it was an important goal which has sent us through to the final. We’ve now got the chance to win another Champions League title”.

Other Real Madrid stars have also spoken about the victory and their expectations from Milan.

Left back, Marcelo said; “In the Champions League there is always a lot of tension, they are tough games. In every competition we play in, we try to do the best we can. It is difficult because they are tough competitions, but we are in the Champions League final and we have a very difficult game ahead of us. We are going into the end of season strong.”

Jesé says; “Last time I wasn’t in the final and now I have the good fortune and opportunity to be there and help the team. This year we deserve to win something and I’m happy.

“All madridistas want to win the Champions League and important things and now we have the opportunity. It is the product of months of work and in the final we have to fight till the last”.

Tough Season

Veteran defender Sergio Ramos considers it a very special night coming off a very tough season.

“After such a tough season, the hard work and the team’s togetherness means that we’re able to enjoy our second final in three years. We dug in and we worked together when we had to.

“The Champions League demands great concentration levels, we performed very well defensively and we put away the chance that we had. We must now enjoy this because it’s a special moment and it takes a lot of hard work to get to a final”.

“The team and the supporters deserve it. Once again, they got fully behind us and were our 12th man. We’ve now got to enjoy this and give our all in another final, we’ve already shown that we know how to win the final.

“It was a very special night for the Real Madrid fans and we’re really keen to bring the eleventh European title back home to our supporters.”

La Liga Quality

Cristiano Ronaldo, in his analysis of the semi-final win against Manchester City, tagged it a busy game.

“The team did well, we controlled the game and had more opportunities. We could have killed the game with a second goal and 1-0 is a small result but it is sufficient. We are in the final, which was our aim. We knew we needed to score and in the first game in Manchester we deserved to. Today as well, we were the better team and it is fair that we are in the final”.

“It is a final. We are facing Atletico again and I’m happy. This shows the quality of La Liga. I am very happy to be in the final and we still have a chance in La Liga.”

Ronaldo also had good words for the coach; “Zidane is doing a fine job. He is helping us and we are happy with his work. I admire him as a coach and as a person, and I hope that he stays with us.

“We have always been with him. He is a humble person, he likes to learn and listen to the players and it is very easy in this sense.”

Real Madrid will go in search of their eleventh European Cup title, against Atlético de Madrid at the San Siro.

It will be the fourth time that this stadium plays host to a European Cup final after the previous showdowns in 1965, 1970 and 2001.

It is the second time in the history of the European Cup that two sides from the same city face each other in the final. The first of these meetings was also between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

In a repeat of the final from two years ago, in which Real Madrid lifted the Décima in Lisbon, Zinedine Zidane’s men will be looking to win and claim their eleventh European Cup title.

Real Madrid Beat City To Qualify For Champions League final

Champions LeagueReal Madrid Beat Manchester City 1-o to set up an all Spanish final for the second time in three seasons after a first-half own goal from Fernando was enough to secure a narrow win that barely reflected Real’s dominant display.

City had made a bright start but their early momentum was halted in its tracks as captain and centre back, Vincent Kompany, was forced off with a muscle injury after nine minutes, handing the initiative to the hosts, who quickly went on the offensive.

City looked slightly overawed as they handed territory to Real Madrid who punished them when Bale picked up Dani Carvajal’s pass and aimed a cross towards the far post that was deflected by Fernando past Joe Hart into the top corner.

The linesman’s flag prevented City falling further behind when Pepe stabbed into the net only for his effort to be ruled out for offside, while City’s only glimpse of goal in the first half came when Fernandinho’s effort clipped the post.

Madrid continued to dominate after the break, but found a second goal elusive as Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo failed to convert chances, while Bale’s header hit the crossbar.

President Jonathan To Host Victorious Super Falcons On Wednesday

Super FalconsPresident Goodluck Jonathan will host the victorious African women champions, the Super Falcons at the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday.

The Minister of Sports and Chairman of National Sports Commission, Tammy Danagogo, disclosed this when he met with the Super Falcons before they beat the Lionesses of Cameroon 2-0 in the final of the African Women Championship in Windhoek Namibia.

According to the Minister, a proposal has been sent to Mr President to receive the team at the FEC meeting on Wednesday noting that he is quite sure Mr. President would be looking forward to meet the Falcons on their return as he praised the girls for doing Nigeria proud at the championship.

“I know it is not just going to be a presidential hand shake alone because he likes to appreciate those who do the country proud in any sector of national endeavour. Just get the job done and leave the rest” the minister stated

Meanwhile, the Super Falcons were expected to depart Windhoek for Johannesburg by 2pm on Sunday and depart for Lagos by 11pm and will spend the night in Lagos.

The Minister also confirmed during the victory dinner at the Nigerian House in Windhoek that the team would be welcomed by the Lagos community when they touch down.

They would then leave for Abuja on Tuesday where they would be hosted by the National Sports Commission (NSC) before the team meets with Mr President on Wednesday.

Coach Okon Believes Super Falcons Can Win AWC Title

Super FalconsSuper Falcons Coach, Edwin Okon, believes his team has the quality to win the African Women Championship (AWC) for the 7th time by beating Cameroon in the final on Saturday.

Speaking after a hard fought victory over South Africa in the semi final game at the Sam Nujoma stadium in Windhoek, Namibia, Okon stated that the Super Falcons were mentally ready to beat any side to reclaim the title they lost two years ago.

“From the on set, we said it that we shall take the teams as they come. We did not care who we play in the final because we prepared to play who ever and we are ready to beat Cameroon in the final of the AWC

“South Africa gave us a big scare but we were unlucky not to score more than two goals in the first half. The final with Cameroon will be tougher but we shall also raise our game to beat them and reclaim the title

“We lost to them in the third place match in Equatorial Guinea and I will not say we are seeking revenge but we want to reclaim the title. The harder they come the harder they fall. Nigerians should count on us,” he said

Most Valuable Player in the match against South Africa, Asisat Oshoala expressed gratitude to God for the victory over the Banyana Banyana team, emphasizing that it was a difficult win.

“We are happy to reach the final and by the Grace of God, we shall reclaim the title. I thank God for giving me those goals that gave us the win and if I get the chance to score again in the final, I will gladly take it but it does not matter who scores so long as we win the cup,” she stressed.

The Golden Shoe and Golden Ball winner at this year’s FIFA U-20 Women World Cup said that she was not under any pressure to score in the final adding that the Super Falcons are blessed with plenty of goal bangers who can score vital goals to win.

Meanwhile, Coach of South Africa, Vera Pauw has commended the Super Falcons for emerging victorious in the semi final of the African Women Championship (AWC) and has tipped Nigeria to win the trophy.

“I have always known that Nigeria was going to be difficult for us but we gave it our best shot. We take solace in the fact that we gave good account and lost to a better side.

“Nigeria stopped us from playing our normal game in the first half. I congratulate them and wish them well in the final. I think the Super Falcons are better equipped to win on Saturday.

“We have played both finalists and I think I am in a position to say that Nigeria have a better team and I think they will win the cup,” she stated.

Star Football Treats Nigerian Fans In Brazil

world_cup_starAs the world’s biggest sporting tournament holds in Brazil, Nigeria’s number one beer, Star lager is not relenting on its promise to celebrate and reward Nigerian football fans.

Moving through Curitaba, Cuiaba and Porto Alegre cities, 11 lucky winners have dined at the finest local restaurants, bought the much touted Brazilian hair and watched live matches in luxurious style at the stadia. The lucky fans continually acknowledge Star lager for the lifetime opportunity.

An excited Nora Mba while thanking Star says, ‘I have been able to get original human hair for half the price I would have gotten it back in Nigeria.” Another lucky winner, Segun Apata enthused that what he only imagined as a dream has eventually become reality all thanks to Star lager.

Nigeria battled the 1998 world champions, France, on Monday (June 30) and lost by two goals in the round of 16.

Watch the captivating videos from Star Brazil diaries here and here

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Super Falcons Whip Rwanda 4-1 In AWC Qualifier

FalconsNigeria’s senior women team, the Super Falcons, on Saturday in faraway Gisenyi whip-lashed host Rwanda 4-1 in a first leg African Women Championship (AWC) qualifier.

Falcons started the game brightly by dominating proceedings but threw away so many scoring chances they created. Rising star Asisat Oshoala, however, opened scoring in the 37th minute with a volley inside the box.

Three minutes later, the rampaging Desire Oparanozie, who was the ‘tormentor-in-chief’, set up Asisat to put Super Falcons two goals up. It should have been more before the end of the first half but poor shooting denied the Falcons a more comfortable lead.

A Good Game

Falcons made it three on resumption when the captain, Evelyn Nwabuoku, found Esther Sunday who beat Rwanda goalkeeper with a low shot. Thereafter it was the Falcons against the She Amavubi goalkeeper who pulled off several good saves.

Rwanda pulled a goal back in the 65th minute when Clementine Mukamana’s free kick beat Precious Dede in goal for Nigeria.

Stunned by the goal the Nigerian girls piled pressure on their host and Oparanozie was brought down inside the box and she rose to convert the resultant penalty kick for Falcons fourth goal in the match.

After the game an elated Coach Edwin Okon said: “it was a good game”.

“It should have been more if they had taken the numerous chances created.

“It is a good game, a good win. We did not expect it to be this easy but we take positive in the team work of the girls. They lost so many scoring chances and we shall go back and work on them to ensure that they do not repeat the misses again in Nigeria,” he said.

Channels National Kids Cup: Quarter Finalists Emerge

Governor Uduaghan and Boys from Nana School Delta
Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan and the boys of Nana Primary School, Delta before the match.

Eight schools participating in the sixth edition of the Channels National Kids Cup have qualified for the quarter finals.

After Day three games on Saturday, 29 goals were scored, as Toyibat, IMG Oyo, Dr Teslim Elias, Ago-Egba, Samuel Ajayi, Nana Primary School Delta, Research Model Kaduna, and Ebute Meta Lagos made it to the last eight.

In what can be considered a derby match, two teams from Lagos, Ebute Meta Primary School and Eunifrance, provided pure entertainment to spectators.

Ebute Meta had taken a 2-0 lead in the first half but Eunifrance levelled up in the second.

Unfortunately, the last kick of the game favoured Ebute Meta, as goal keeper, Bello Michael’s error deprived them a place in the quarter finals.

Eunifrance needed a draw to qualify but the late goal ended their hopes of scaling through. It was all tears for the young kids, as they were looking forward to remaining in the competition.

In the first game of Day three, the Governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, was one of the spectators that witnessed Nana Primary School, Delta beat Toyibat of Lagos 3-1 to qualify.

Despite the defeat, Toyibat still made it to the next round after securing victories in their first two games.Nana-School-Delta-VS-Toyibat-Lagos

In another game, Bishop Smith Primary School from Kwara was unfortunate not to make it to the next round after playing a two all draw with Ago-Egba of Lagos.

In another Group B fixture, Samuel Ajayi Memorial School of Ogun had an easy 4-1 victory over First Baptist of Osun to advance to the next stage.

In other results, Banham Memorial School of Rivers defeated St. Anthony of Ondo 2-0, School Road, Abia beat 12 Apostles Ebonyi 2-1.

Dr Teslim Elias, Lagos was impressive, as they went on to secure a 3-1 victory over Ibadan Municipal Government Primary School while Research Model School Kaduna beat Irepodun Primary School, Ikole-Ikiti 2-0.

In the quarter finals, it will be another Lagos clash between Dr Teslim Elias and Ago-Egba while Samuel Ajayi of Ogun will play IMG of Oyo.

Another cracker will be between Nana Primary School Delta and Ebute Meta Primary School of Lagos.

The Boys from Kaduna will lock horns with Toyibat of Lagos. All the matches would be played at the Agege Stadium on Sunday.

After the quarter final games, the teams that qualify for the semi finals will play at the Teslim Balogun Stadium Surulere, Lagos.

Nigeria’s Male Team Misses Out On Promotion, Female Team Survives Relegation

Aruna-QuadriNigeria’s hope of gaining promotion to the championship division at the 2014 World Team Table Tennis Championship has been dashed after losing narrowly to England in the quarter-final stage to settle for the seventh place in division two.

With the victory, England makes a return to the Championship division for the first time in seventeen years.

In previous meetings, England dominated Nigeria but with the fine performance of Segun Toriola, Kazeem Makanjuola, Aruna Quadri and Ojo Onaolapo in Tokyo, Nigeria is taking back its place in world table tennis.

After finishing second to Czech Republic in group E, team Nigeria defeated Turkey in the knockout stage and started the match against England on a good note when Quadri, who finished 16 at the 2014 Spanish Open beat the Paul Drinkhall 12-10, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6 to give Nigeria the lead.

The win serves as good experience for Quari, as beating Drinkhall, who won the Spanish Open few weeks ago in the city of Almeria in Spain, will surely motivate him to impress whenever he challenges quality opponents.

Team captain, Toriola, increased the lead when he fought well to beat Liam Pitchford 10-12, 12-10, 8-11, 11-6, 11-6. At this stage of the match, Nigeria were favourites to qualify for the semi-finals.

But the turning point for the English team was when Onaolapo was beaten 11-5, 11-7, 11-6 by Daniel Reed. This put the overall result at 2-1 with Nigeria leading.

The win against Onaolapo brought out the best in the British players who improved to win their next two matches against Quadri and Toriola.

In the fourth game, Pitchford avenged Drinkhall loss to Quadri when he overwhelmed Quadri 5-11, 11-6, 5-11, 6-11, while Drinkhall rounded up the game with 6-11, 11-9, 5-11, 9-11 win over Toriola to put the overall result at 3-2.

England captain, Drinkhall admitted that the encounter against the Nigerians remained the most difficult game for them in the tournament.

“We’re really happy to have come through, we had a difficult start to the match with me losing the first match. I think if I would have won that, we might have won 3-0; this was the first real test for our team and I am happy we made it through. I think we can take this match as positive,” Drinkhall confirmed.

Japan’s Ishikawa Juan was full of praise for the Nigerian team.

“I never expected much from the Nigerians but since the start of the tournament, they have proved to be a good team especially with what they played against England. I think they are a good side and they just need to continue in the fine form to get back to the elite division. I wish them well,” Ishikawa said.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian female team put up a good show in the classification match to avoid relegation with wins over Peru, Turkey and Israel. The wins ensured that the team remained in division two for the next edition of the competition taking place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2016.

The performance of Nigeria will surely improve their world ratings when the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) world ranking is released after the championship.

Bayern Munich Back Home After Winning Bundesliga Title

bayern-munich-championsBayern Munich have returned to their southern German hometown the evening after successfully defending their Bundesliga title in record time.

Bayern beat Hertha Berlin 3-1 on Tuesday (March 25) evening thanks to goals from Toni Kroos, Mario Goetze and Franck Ribery, winning the title with seven games left in the campaign.

Last season’s treble winners claimed their 23rd Bundesliga crown with a 10th straight away victory, extending their winning streak to a remarkable 19 consecutive league games and their unbeaten run to 52 league matches – all Bundesliga records.

The players looked relaxed wearing team tracksuits as they got off the plane at Munich airport, most of them getting into their own cars and driving away.

Spanish coach Pep Guardiola, who won 14 out of 19 titles in four years at Barcelona, has now added the Bundesliga crown to the European Super Cup and Club World Cup titles Bayern won earlier this season.

They have an unassailable 25-point lead over second-placed Borussia Dortmund, who were runners-up last term, with 21 points to play for in Guardiola’s first season in charge.