Messi Vows To Play On After Latest Argentina Heartache

 

Lionel Messi vowed to extend his international career after yet another bid to win a major title with Argentina ended in failure at the Copa America on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old Barcelona star, who infamously quit international football after Argentina’s defeat in the 2016 Copa America Centenario final, said he had no plans to hang up his boots after a 2-0 semi-final loss to Brazil.

“If I can still help in any way, I will continue to do so. I feel really good in this group,” said the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

“This is a good, talented generation who showed that they love the national team,” he added.

“They have a future and great foundations, they just need to be given time.”

READ ALSO: Jesus, Firmino Send Brazil Into Copa America Final As Messi Fails Again

Messi will get another chance to break his tournament duck next year when the Copa America takes place in Argentina and Colombia, with the 2022 World Cup looming further on the horizon.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni meanwhile insisted his new-look squad had a bright future despite the defeat.

“Without a doubt, today we showed that this group of players feel the jersey like no-one else,” he said.

“We showed an image for the future of this squad and these players and the great path they are on.

“To play in this stadium, in these conditions and to be superior to our opponents.

“It doesn’t matter because they’re going to the final but if we’re aware of what we did today then there’s only positives.”

He said the defeat was “unfair” claiming that “no other team has created as many goalscoring chances against Brazil as we did.”

Messi’s best chance came on 57 minutes when he volleyed against the post. Scaloni said the veteran was Argentina’s “standard-bearer.”

“Brazil were continuously trying to stop passes from reaching him and we kept looking for ways to get him the ball,” Scaloni said.

“It was thrilling to see him play. It didn’t work out today but he’ll have his rematch and the whole squad will have their rematch.”

Scaloni was unhappy with some of Ecuadoran referee Roddy Zambrano’s decisions, not least the fact that Argentina picked up six bookings to Brazil’s two.

“I didn’t like the referee, I don’t usually make those comments,” he said.

“I don’t think he was qualified for a match of this level.”

He added: “If a midfielder player is on a yellow card this changes things. There were a lot of small details where the match started to lose its balance because of those decisions.”

AFP

Christmas: A New App Is Born At The Birthplace Of Jesus

 

Bethlehem is buzzing, with more tourists expected this Christmas than have visited the Biblical city in years, causing the kind of problem that modern technology was almost born to deal with.

Such are the crowds at the church built on the site where Jesus is believed to have been born that the authorities are planning to introduce an advance reservation system through an app.

The app, which will be introduced early next year, is aimed at ensuring a regular flow of tourists at the Church of the Nativity, where at busy times visitors wait hours to see the underground grotto where Christians believe Jesus was born in a manger.

Details of the app, which will be in English to start, are still being worked out.

One priest said it would only apply to tour groups visiting the site in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, but the Palestinian tourism ministry said it would be for everyone.

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While there are concerns visits could become unnecessarily complicated, the three churches that share control of the site — the Catholics, Greek Orthodox and the Armenian Church — say such an app is needed.

“There are times when for us there are specific prayers, celebrations, or masses, or with all the sects praying,” Orthodox priest Issa Thaljieh said outside the church.

“So of course there is a huge squeeze. With the app, everyone will know what time to enter and which groups are there, so it will become more organised.”

The first church was built on the site in the fourth century, though it was replaced after a fire in the sixth century. Its mosaics were recently restored in a major project.

Palestinian deputy tourism minister Ali Abu Srour said the app would also provide information about the church.

“We are going digital with this issue,” he told AFP in his office in Bethlehem.

– Record year –
Barbora Salyova, a 29-year-old tourist visiting Israel and Jordan from Slovakia, said the app could be useful for pilgrims like herself.

“This is a step we definitely planned to make,” she said. “We also came for religious reasons so this was an automatic stop.”

Tourism in Bethlehem is enjoying its best season in years, with hotels reporting especially high occupancy rates for the Christmas period, said Elias Al-Arja, chairman of the Hotels Association Palestine.

“We had occupancy rates of 74 or 72 percent in 2018,” he said, adding that it is expected to rise later in December.

In total around 2.8 million tourists have visited the Palestinian territories this year, up from 2.5 million last year, according to the tourism ministry.

Abu Srour said the primary reason is a decrease in violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank this year.

The ministry has reached out to new tourists in locations across the globe, he said.

Israel is also enjoying record tourism figures and many visitors take day trips to Bethlehem and other West Bank sites from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and elsewhere in the Jewish state.

Okotie Urges Nigerians To Love Beyond Ethnic Sentiment

okotieA senior pastor of the Household of God Church and a former presidential candidate of FRESH political party, Rev. Chris Okotie, has urged Nigerians to show love beyond ethnic sentiment.

Rev. Okotie made the statement in an Easter message on Sunday.

He urged Christians and Nigerians of other faith to emulate Jesus Christ, whom he said showed his love for mankind when he died and resurrected for all to be saved.

Christians all over the world celebrate Easter to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Chris from the dead and the redemption of mankind, as taught by the faith.

Easter is a day observed on the first Sunday after the “Pascal full moon” or the first full moon of spring following the spring equinox, which constantly falls on any Sunday between March 22 and April 25, according to the Gregorian calendar introduced by Pope Gregory in 1582.

Real Madrid Start Tour With Screamer From Bale

Gareth Bale RMReal Madrid started the 2014/15 season with a draw against Inter Milan at the University of Berkeley’s California Memorial Stadium.

The first half belonged to the Whites, who demonstrated the hallmarks that made them champions of Europe: a possession game and suffocating pressure to recover the ball in front of a crowd that were right behind Ancelotti’s team.

The match took a turn very early, on 10 minutes, although the first goal could have come even earlier. A cross from Carvajal from the right and a headed shot from Bale hit the crossbar. It was a warning of what was to come.

The Welshman controlled the ball in the midfield, went forward with it stuck to his foot and surprised Handanovic with an unstoppable missile from 30 metres. There was little the Italian team’s goalkeeper could do against the surprising effect that the Welshman achieved with his strike.

Bale was showing that he is starting the season in exceptional form and came close to bagging a brace after half an hour’s play. His long-distance free kick was deflected for a corner by Handanovic. It was the last dangerous play of the first half, in which the Whites showed great solidity on the field and their opponents barely threatened their goal.

At half time Ancelotti decided to bring on Jesús and Marcos Llorente for Diego López and Bale, who was the most outstanding player in the first half. The match took a turn for the worse in the 68th minute when the referee gave a penalty for a Sobrino push on Vidic, who was about to shoot following a cross from Jonathan from the right. Icardi converted it to equalise the game.

The match opened up. It was end-to-end stuff. Jesús showed off his reflexes with an impressive double save in the 78th minute, stopping shots from Juan Jesús and Andreolli, but six minutes later it was the Whites’ turn and Omar forced Carrizo to make a great save with a shot from in front of the box. The time was up and the penalty shoot-out was won by the Italian side.

Jonathan Rededicates Self To Country’s Development During Pilgrimage

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan along with his entourage has kicked off his holy pilgrimage to Israel with a tour of some holy sites in Jerusalem.

The tour was used as a rededication by the President to the development of the country.

The President also took time to tour the holy sites within the walls of old Jerusalem.

The walk down the way of the cross in particular was used by the president to make supplications on behalf of the country.

On the first day, the tour started with a visit to the garden of Gethsemani, the Upper Room in Mount Zion and the Church of St. Peters, where Peter was said to have denied Jesus.

Supplications were made in Chapels to mark every holy site by Christian Ministers, as they prayed for the President, as well as the unity and continued existence of the country back home.

The second day of President Jonathan’s tour started with the Wailing Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem and the President was received by the Rabbi of the Wall, who led the pilgrims to offer supplications.

President Jonathan was led afterwards to the tunnels underneath the Wall to the Station of the Cross, which marked Jesus’ travails from the seat of Pontus Pilate to the Calvary.

The journey ended at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, with President Jonathan offering prayers at every station along the way.

The experience no doubt awakens the sense of sacrifice in officials in the President’s entourage and perhaps an obligation to leave their country better for the next generation.

It will be recalled that the President left Nigeria for the year’s holy pilgrimage on Thursday 23rd October.

According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity), Reuben Abati, the President will also be meeting with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset.

There will also be talks between President Jonathan’s delegation and the Israeli government officials, with a focus on the enhancement of bilateral relations between Nigeria and Israel in areas of trade, economic development, infrastructure, transportation, agriculture, communications, culture, education and tourism.

According to the statement, President Jonathan will also be meeting with the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas.

Those among the entourage of the President on the holy pilgrimage are Senator Emmanuel Paulker, the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Akinwunmi  Adesina, the Minister of Water Resources, Mrs Sarah Ochekpe, the Minister of Works, Arc. Mike Onolememen, the Minister of State (Foreign Affairs), Prof Viola Onwuliri, and the National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki.

The President, who is expected to be back in the country next week, may meet and interact with some other Nigerians who are already in Israel for the holy pilgrimage.