Ex-Nigerian Captain Mikel Joins Kuwaiti Club

Mikel To Miss Eagles AFCON Qualifier Against South Africa
Ex-Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel attends a press conference in Kaliningrad on June 15, 2018 during the Russia 2018 World Cup football tournament. OZAN KOSE / AFP.

 

Nigeria’s former captain Mikel Obi has joined Kuwaiti side Al-Kuwait Sporting Club, just one month after penning a contract extension with Championship team Stoke City.

The Brigadiers announced the signing of the former Chelsea star on Thursday evening on social media. He will be on a one-year contract with Al-Kuwait.

READ ALSO: [‘I Will Do It’]: Oliseh Says He Is Open To Helping Nigerian Football

‘A Fantastic Professional’

Stoke City also confirmed that they have terminated Mikel’s contract with the Potters and his eventual departure.

“We can confirm that John Obi Mikel has left the Club,” the English side wrote on their official Instagram handle. “All the best, Mikel Obi.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Stoke City FC (@stokecity)

Manager Michael O’Neill praised the Nigerian for his professionalism and thanked him for his contributions to the club during his spell with them.

“John is a fantastic professional and was a huge presence for us last season both on and off the field, particularly with the young players in our first-team squad,” the Northern Irish boss said in his tribute to the 2013 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) winner.

“I really enjoyed working with him and would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his contribution and wish him every success for the future.”

The 34-year-old midfielder played 39 league matches for O’Neill’s men during the 2020-21 campaign as they ended 14th on the log. After his stint with Chelsea, Mikel returned to England in August 2020. This was after he discontinued his deal with Trabzonspor in the Turkish Super Lig after a fallout with the club over COVID-19.

Mikel’s move to the oil-rich country will provide a much-needed boost for Al Kuwait who ended third in the domestic league last campaign, finishing behind Al-Qadsia and winners Al-Arabi.

He will be joining other African players including El-Mehdi Barrahma of Morocco, Tunisian duo of Ahmed Akaichi and Rami Bedoui, and Abdulwahid Sissoko from Mali at the Al Kuwait Sports Club Stadium.

His new club have won the Kuwaiti Premier League (KPL) 15 times. The Brigadiers have won the Kuwaiti Premier League (KPL) 15 times with 47 trophies in their cabinet.

 

Former Eagles Captain Mikel Obi Joins Stoke City

Mikel Obi won the Champions League with Chelsea in 2012. Photo: [email protected] City

 

 

A former Super Eagles captain, Mikel Obi has joined English Championship side, Stoke City ahead of the 2020/2021 season. 

The team confirmed the signing of the former Chelsea star on a free transfer on Monday.

“The [ex]Nigerian international midfielder joins Morgan Fox, James Chester and Steven Fletcher in checking in at the Bet365 Stadium ahead of the 2020/21 Championship season,” the club said on their website.

 

 

EPL Dream

Mikel had in March left Turkish Super Lig club Trabzonspor and becomes the fourth signing for Michael O’Neill’s team.

According to O’Neill, Mikel has invaluable experience which would help the team, explaining that he was impressed with the Nigerian when he first met him.

“We spent four hours talking and he made it clear he wants to get back into the Premier League and finish his career there and hopefully he can do that with Stoke City,” the coach said.

‘Winning Mentality’

For the player, joining the Potters is the beginning of a new chapter in his life, one he hopes will bring a winning mentality.

“If I can bring that experience and winning mentality here, then I will be happy,” Mikel said.

 

During his stint with Chelsea, the former Lyn Oslo midfielder made 370 appearances for the Blues, and won three FA Cups, as well as landing the domestic league twice.

He also won the Champions League and Europa League with the London side before he left for Chinese Super League outfit, Tianjin TEDA in 2017.

The 2016 Olympics bronze medalist was to later return to England in a short-term deal with Middlesbrough in January 2019.

File photo of Mikel who featured 370 times for Chelsea.

 

Mikel had 91 caps for the Super Eagles before his retirement from international football in 2019.

Man United Cancel Friendly After Stoke City Manager Contracts COVID-19

Michael O’Neill

 

The friendly game between Manchester United and Stoke City has been cancelled after the Potters gaffer, Michael O’Neill tested positive to COVID-19.

Michael O’Neill was confirmed positive for COVID-19 following the most recent round of testing conducted on Monday.

The planned match between the duo was called off on Tuesday following the development with Stoke having arrived at the Manchester United’s Carrington training ground and were already in the academy building.

“Stoke City can confirm that manager Michael O’Neill has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus following the latest round of testing on Monday (June 8),” read a statement on Stoke City’s website.

“O’Neill had tested negative in the previous five rounds of testing. He will now follow the relevant guidance and undergo a period of isolation, whilst continuing to be in regular virtual contact with his coaching staff and players.”

The club statement revealed that “Assistant manager Billy McKinlay will take charge of training as the Potters prepare for their game against Reading on June 20. The Club will be making no further comment on this matter.”

Stoke are on 17th position in the English Championship with three points above the relegation zone.

United are billed to meet Tottenham as the Premier League resumes on June 17th after been forced to go on a break, mid-March, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

In the most recent round of COVID-19 testing in the Premier League, no positive cases were detected.

Overall, 1,195 players and club staff have been tested for COVID-19 in the Premier League.

Liverpool Sign Swiss Winger Xherdan Shaqiri

Switzerland’s forward Xherdan Shaqiri (C) warms up with teammates before the Russia 2018 World Cup round of 16 football match between Sweden and Switzerland at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on July 3, 2018. CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP

 

Liverpool have signed Switzerland international Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke City, the English Premier League giants announced Friday.

The Reds said he had signed “a long-term contract”, with British media reports saying Shaqiri had arrived at Anfield in a five-year deal for £13 million ($17 million, 15 million euros).

The 26-year-old winger’s move follows Stoke’s relegation from the Premier League.

“I’m very happy to be here. It’s a huge club with big history, big players and a fantastic coach (Jurgen Klopp),” Shaqiri told liverpoolfc.com.

“As a player, you always want to be on the biggest stage in football. A few years ago I wanted to come too, but it didn’t happen. I’m really happy that now I’m finally here.

“I want to improve myself too, I want to be with the best and I want to win titles. That’s what I’m here for.”

AFP

Swansea City Relegated From Premier League

Swansea City Relegated From Premier League
Stoke City’s English striker Peter Crouch (2L) scores their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Swansea City and Stoke City at The Liberty Stadium in Swansea, South Wales on May 13, 2018. Geoff CADDICK / AFP

 

Swansea City’s seven-season stay in the Premier League came to an end on Sunday as the Welsh side joined West Brom and Stoke City in being relegated to the Championship.

Needing to beat Stoke, Southampton to lose to Manchester City and a 10-goal swing in goal difference in their favour, Swansea were realistically relegated when Huddersfield guaranteed their survival by holding Chelsea on Wednesday.

However, a 2-1 home defeat to Stoke sealed their fate to cap a 10-game winless streak to end a sorry season.

AFP

Liverpool Momentum Halted By Stoke Ahead Of Roma Clash

Liverpool Momentum Halted By Stoke Ahead Of Roma Clash
Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (C) controls the ball during the Premier League football match against Stoke City at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 28, 2018. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool warmed up for their Champions League semi-final second leg against Roma with a low-key goalless draw against Stoke at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp’s side head to the Italian capital on Wednesday with a 5-2 advantage from the first leg and do so the back of a Premier League match they controlled for long periods without over-exerting themselves in search of a winner.

The result left Liverpool with a healthy cushion over fifth-placed Chelsea and in need of a maximum of four points from their two remaining matches to guarantee qualification for Champions League.

Relegation-threatened Stoke remain in the drop zone with only two games left to avoid slipping into the Championship.

“Today was a difficult, intense time for us. I saw everything I wanted to see except fluency and fun and joy,” Klopp said.

“It is hard on a day like this. Stoke were a little lucky in some situations, it looked a clear penalty.”

Klopp’s programme notes featured a message he has stated with regularity in recent weeks; that Liverpool’s focus on a top four finish in the Premier League should not be neglected despite their progress in European competition.

The Reds manager made five changes from the side which beat Roma, with Sadio Mane the most notable absentee from the starting line-up with a thigh problem.

However, despite Klopp’s words, it was almost inevitable the intensity of that thrilling victory over the Italian side would not be replicated against Stoke.

The Potters have never won a top-flight match at Anfield – the longest winless away run in top-flight history – with their last league victory in Division Two in 1959.

There was never any danger of that statistic being altered as Liverpool dominated, yet only sporadically tested visiting goalkeeper Jack Butland.

This was also a game where Mohamed Salah endured, by his exceptionally high standards, a rare off day.

Indeed it was the first time since Liverpool’s match against Swansea on December 26 last year that Salah has not found the net in the Premier League on home turf.

The Egypt international did have a golden opportunity to score his 32nd league goal of the season in the fifth minute.

Salah was sent clear and when he clipped the ball over Jack Butland the Liverpool supporters were celebrating, only for disbelief to dawn when the shot did not hit the target.

Stoke’s attacking ambition was fleeting and largely centred around seeking to hit Liverpool on the counter-attack.

A tame header from Mame Diouf, which hit the side netting, was the best the visitors could muster in a first half in which Liverpool monopolised the clear-cut opportunities.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, who started in midfield, got the ball stuck under his feet after he had exchanged passes with Salah but was unable to generate sufficient power to trouble Butland.

Georginio Wijnaldum hit the side netting from distance, Salah curled a free-kick just wide, while Danny Ings volleyed in from a tight angle only for the assistant referee to flag him offside.

There was a hush around Anfield just before half-time when captain Jordan Henderson lay on the turf clutching his Achilles, however after treatment the midfielder was able to continue.

Attacking the Kop End in the second half, Liverpool’s tempo increased although it failed to translate into clear goalscoring chances.

Liverpool’s players vociferously appealed for a penalty three minutes from time when the ball struck the arm of Erik Pieters inside the box from Wijnaldum’s cross but referee Andre Marriner waved them away.

Stoke then went close at the death when Diouf’s low cross flashed across the area with nobody able to apply the decisive touch, but Paul Lambert will have been more than satisfied with a point.

Chelsea Crush Stoke City 5 – 0

Chelsea’s Brazilian midfielder Willian (C) celebrates after scoring their fourth goal from the penalty. Photo: Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

Chelsea demonstrated the yawning chasm in squad depth that exists in the Premier League with a 5-0 canter past Stoke City at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

While both sides rotated their squads after a hectic series of fixtures, Chelsea maintained their quality on the pitch in a scintillating opening half-hour, racing into a 3-0 lead and effectively winning the match through goals from Antonio Rudiger, Danny Drinkwater and Pedro.

A late Willian penalty and a fine individual effort from Davide Zappacosta completed the scoring in a game that had long since ceased to be a contest.

By contrast, Stoke’s team selection suggested manager Mark Hughes was prioritising Monday’s New Year’s Day game at home to fellow strugglers Newcastle United.

Teenage full-backs Tom Edwards and Josh Tymon both started while influential midfielders Joe Allen and Xherdan Shaqiri were named as substitutes.

It took just two minutes and 35 seconds for Stoke’s makeshift side to be exposed. Willian sent over a long, looping free-kick to the far post where Rudiger rose to head powerfully home.

It was 2-0 after eight minutes.

This time Stoke did manage to clear a set piece, a corner on this occasion, only to see the ball drop to Drinkwater just outside the area.

A touch to control and a swish of his right boot later and the ball was flying into the top corner, leaving Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland helpless.

A third goal seemed inevitable and it arrived after 23 minutes.

Willian slipped the ball to Pedro who allowed it to drift across his body, wrongfooting Tymon in the process, before striking it low into the corner of Butland’s net.

At this point, it appeared that the record Premier League victory -– Manchester United’s 9-0 win over Ipswich in 1995 -– could possibly be eclipsed.

Instead Chelsea’s intensity dropped.

This gave Charlie Adam more time in midfield. The Scot used it wisely, floating a delightful ball into the path of Mame Biram Diouf, who used his upper arm to control it before he slotted his shot under the body of Thibaut Courtois. The goal was rightly disallowed.

Stoke then fashioned another opportunity in the opening minutes of the second half.

However, Saido Berahino’s understandable lack of confidence having not scored since February 2016 saw him shoot tamely at Courtois.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte’s thoughts were already turning towards Wednesday’s London derby trip to Arsenal. The Italian removed Victor Moses, N’Golo Kante and Alvaro Morata by the 71st minute.

Two minutes later, Chelsea had their fourth goal. Willian, who was clearly bundled over by Geoff Cameron in the area, sent Butland the wrong way with his penalty.

With the game nearing its conclusion, Zappacosta chose the moment to score his first Premier League goal, collecting the ball on the right, cutting inside and driving a low shot past Butland.

AFP

Stoke’s Clash With West Ham Delayed After Power Failure

PHOTO: GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP

Stoke’s Premier League clash with West Ham was delayed on Saturday after a “major power outage” at the bet365 Stadium.

Mark Hughes’s side were scheduled to kick off against the Hammers at 1500 GMT, but with less than half an hour to go before the match, it was announced the start would be delayed.

Parts of the stadium were plunged into darkness, while fans were forced to remain outside while the problem was addressed.

“Kick off will be delayed due to a major power outage. We will make a further announcement after 3.00pm,” a post on Stoke’s official Twitter account said.

“A power surge has affected both club generators and the mains supply.”

Stoke were finally able to restore power, with the kick-off rescheduled for 1600 GMT.

AFP

Manchester United Held As Choupo-Moting Fires Stoke

 

Stoke City’s German midfielder Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (C) performs a celebratory dance with teammate Stoke City’s French defender Kurt Zouma (L) after scoring his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Stoke City and Manchester United on September 9, 2017. AFP PHOTO / Geoff CADDICK

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting ended Manchester United’s perfect start to the Premier League season as his first two goals on Saturday for Stoke secured a 2-2 draw against Jose Mourinho’s side.

Choupo-Moting gave Stoke the lead before grabbing the crucial equaliser after Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku had put United ahead.

The Cameroon forward’s goals were the first United had conceded in four league fixtures this season and Stoke became the first opponents to deny them victory.

The draw was enough to keep United on top of the table, ahead of Manchester City on goal difference, but the goals they conceded either side of half-time will be a concern for Mourinho.

Stoke’s summer signing scored on 43 and 63 minutes with Rashford equalising with a lucky, involuntary header on the stroke of half-time before Lukaku’s fourth goal in as many United appearances gave them a lead that lasted for just six minutes.

Stoke threatened first as Choupo-Moting chased a chip over the United back four and Eric Bailly had to race back to make an important challenge to concede a corner.

United took the sting out of Stoke’s early attacks and had some promising possession of their own but they had a further scare in the 18th minute.

After a largely scrappy first half in which Stoke more than held their own, they claimed the lead two minutes before the break.

The goal, which was made by two former United players with Darren Fletcher angling a pass to the right and Mame Diouf delivering a dangerous cross for Choupo-Moting to sneak ahead of Bailly and tap home.

AFP

Stoke Sign Wimmer From Tottenham For £18m

Kevin Wimmer//Image: .stokecityfc.com

Stoke City have signed defender Kevin Wimmer from Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur for £18 million on a five-year contract.

The 24-year-old Austria international has not played for Spurs this season, though he made 31 appearances in all competitions for the club since joining from Cologne in 2015.

Stoke announced the signing on their official Twitter feed on Tuesday and manager Mark Hughes said that he was satisfied with the club’s efforts to strengthen the defence.

“Kevin is an undoubted talent. He will significantly add to the quality of the group of players that I already have,” Hughes tweeted.

“We put a real emphasis on trying to enhance the defensive areas of the squad this summer. We feel that we have been able to do that.”

Wimmer is Stoke’s fourth permanent signing of the current window, and follows centre back Bruno Martins Indi, midfielder Darren Fletcher and Cameroon forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to the club.

Hughes’ has also brought in forward Jese Rodriguez on a season-long loan from Paris St Germain and defender Kurt Zouma on a similar deal from Chelsea.

“I had some really good conversations with the manager… and they were important for me,” Wimmer told Stoke’s website. (www.stokecityfc.com)

“I like the way he approaches the game, his style of play suits the way I like to play too — he likes his defenders to be able to play out with the ball.”

Top Four Race Continues As Arsenal Trash Stoke

Late Show: 10-Man Arsenal Beat Burnley To Go 2ndArsenal kept their hopes of finishing in top four of the English Premier League alive with a convincing 4-1 victory at Stoke City.

Olivier Giroud gave the Gunners the lead with a late goal in the first half with Mesut Ozil doubling the lead 10 minutes after the restart.

Former Liverpool and Tottenham forward Peter Crouch pulled one back for Stoke, but Alexis Sanchez restored the Gunners’ two-goal lead in the 76th minute.

Giroud sealed the win for Arsenal on Saturday evening with a brilliant finish as the North London side move to the fourth spot in the league for the first time in several weeks.

Tottenham Beat Stoke To Move Second In Premier League

Tottenham Beat Stoke To Move Second In Premier League, Harry KaneIt was a delightful English Premier League match for Tottenham on Sunday afternoon as they beat Stoke City 4-0 at the White Hart Lane.

Harry Kane netted three whooping goals consecutively in a space of 40 minutes after the match began.

The hat-trick hero subsequently made a brilliant assist for Dele Alli who scored the fourth for the hosts in less than two minutes to the end of the first half.

Spurs maintained the lead all through the second half to make the victory their eighth successive Premier League home win.

They are now seventh on the league table with 53 points, trailing Chelsea with 10 points.