Former Super Eagles forward Daniel Amokachi says Thursday’s friendly match where the Super Eagles lost 4-0 to Portugal is enough proof the team doesn’t deserve a place in the FIFA World Cup which starts today in Qatar.
He blamed the Super Eagles woes on appointment of wrong coaches as well as calling up wrong players into the team.
“When you look at the Portugal game, that tells you that we don’t even deserve to be there (World Cup). There are one two three different angles that you have to look at it, bringing in the right coach, bringing in the right players and get the right environment to play at.
“We always bring the wrong coaches to handle country like Nigeria; we always bring the wrong players,” Amokachi said during a Channels Television broadcast on Sunday.
He admitted to being one of those who said former coach Gernot Rohr wasn’t good enough for the Eagles but said he was dismissed at the wrong time. He added that even though Austin Eguavoen who replaced Rohr had a good run but because he was a local coach, he was not given freehand to run the team by the federation officials.
World Cup chiefs on Friday banned beer sales around stadiums in a stunning U-turn just two days before kickoff as Cristiano Ronaldo prepared to jet in to Qatar.
Alcohol is largely prohibited in the Islamic nation but the organisers sparked anger from fans with their dramatic decision.
Football’s world governing body FIFA said beer would not be sold to fans around any of the eight World Cup stadiums following discussions with the hosts.
“A decision has been made to focus the sale of alcoholic beverages on the FIFA Fan Festival, other fan destinations and licensed venues, removing sales points of beer from Qatar’s FIFA World Cup 2022 stadium perimeters,” FIFA said in a statement.
Dozens of Budweiser beer tents had already been set up at grounds ahead of the first game on Sunday between Qatar and Ecuador.
The host nation has predicted that more than one million fans will visit the country for the 29-day tournament and FIFA has had a longstanding sponsorship deal with Budweiser, which is owned by drinks giant AB InBev.
Beer will remain available in VIP suites in stadiums, in some fan zones and in some hotel and restaurant bars.
The Football Supporters’ Association, which represents fans from England and Wales, criticised the move, saying it was symptomatic of a “total lack of communication” with supporters from the organisers.
“If they can change their minds on this at a moment’s notice, with no explanation, supporters will have understandable concerns about whether they will fulfil other promises relating to accommodation, transport or cultural issues,” it said in a statement.
– Ronaldo arrives –
Ronaldo is set to become the latest global superstar to land in Qatar after his explosive tirade against his club Manchester United.
The Portugal forward, who has dominated global football for the past 15 years alongside Argentina’s Lionel Messi, will be playing in his fifth and likely final World Cup.
The 37-year-old, who has a world-record 117 international goals, is aiming to become the first man to score in five World Cups.
But his arrival in Doha will be overshadowed by an astonishing outburst against United, in which he said he felt “betrayed” by the club and had no respect for manager Erik ten Hag.
The forward, who has more than 800 goals for club and country, appears headed for the Old Trafford exit door but will be desperate to show potential suitors he can still deliver on the biggest stage.
Earlier this week he pledged “total and absolute focus on the work of the national team” along with a photo of himself and some of his international team-mates on social media.
Manchester United issued a fresh statement on Friday, saying the club had “initiated appropriate steps in response to Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent media interview”.
“We will not be making further comment until this process reaches its conclusion,” the club added.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner missed Portugal’s 4-0 demolition of Nigeria in a friendly on Thursday with illness but will hope to be fit for their opening match against Ghana in Qatar on November 24.
The Euro 2016 champions will also face Uruguay and South Korea in Qatar.
Messi, 35, is also likely featuring at his final World Cup, as the curtain starts to come down on an era of astonishing dominance from the two players.
Belgium, second in the world rankings, are also due to arrive in Doha late on Friday, with five-time champions Brazil expected on Saturday.
Defending champions France are sweating on the fitness of forward Karim Benzema and defender Raphael Varane ahead of their opening game on Tuesday.
Real Madrid’s Benzema has been struggling with a thigh problem while Manchester United defender Varane is recovering from a leg injury.
“Karim and Raphael are doing really well,” teammate Adrien Rabiot said on Friday. “They trained apart because that was the protocol that was in place for them.
“They are good and are really keen to play, but I don’t know if they will be involved in the first match.”
Nigerians are facing up to the reality of not qualifying for the World Cup, which kicks off Sunday in Qatar, as the African football giants have to watch from the sidelines the countdown to the quadrennial global showpiece.
Fans of the Super Eagles — the Nigeria football team’s nickname — have brought colour, celebration, and drama with their drums, trumpets, and costumes at six previous World Cups where their team featured.
In March, perennial rivals Ghana eliminated Nigeria in a World Cup play-off on the away goals’ rule after the first leg finished 0-0 in Ghana before a 1-1 draw in Abuja.
“It’s now a reality, a bad dream, that we will not be at the World Cup,” said Segun Olayinka, a fan based in Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos.
“Our best players like Victor Osimhen and Wilfred Ndidi have been doing great at their clubs in Europe, but now they can only watch the World Cup on television, just like me.”
Nigeria’s German coach Gernot Rohr was sacked midway through the World Cup qualifiers and the coach said his firing was partly to blame for the team’s failure.
He said the then-president of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, had claimed his dismissal was to avert disaster.
“But in the end, he created the disaster that cost Nigeria the ticket to the World Cup,” Rohr said.
“I regret that I did not take my team to win the World Cup, I regret my players will not be at the World Cup even though they deserve to be there.”
The closest the Super Eagles will come to be associated with the World Cup will be Thursday in Lisbon, where they take on Portugal in a final warm-up game for the home team before they fly out to Qatar.
“We’re a big football nation and the players are all disappointed they will not be going to the World Cup,” said team spokesman Baba Femi Raji.
“We now have to look ahead and this high-profile match is one of the ways we are already doing so.”
Terem Moffi, who plays for French club Lorient, told AFP every player dreams of playing on the biggest stage.
“It would have been great being at the World Cup because many of us are doing well at our clubs,” he said.
“But since we didn’t qualify, that does not count for much now.”
Will Nigerian fans now switch their support to “Old Enemy” Ghana, a neighbouring West African country, one of five teams from the continent who qualified.
Ghana are drawn in a tough-looking group that has Portugal, Korea and Uruguay, the team who stopped them in 2010 from becoming the first African team to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup.
Since qualification at the expense of Nigeria, they have strengthened their squad with the likes of Mohammed Salisu and Tariq Lamptey from the Premier League as well as Spain-based forward Inaki Williams.
Some Nigerian fans said they will most likely be cheering other teams to victory because of the long-standing rivalry between the two west African states.
Many Nigerians are devoted followers of the English Premier League as well as Spain’s La Liga.
Brazil’s squad has as many as 11 players from the Premier League.
Club allegiance could see Nigerian fans rooting for Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus because they also support Arsenal or Vinicius Junior because of Real Madrid.
England could benefit from support as well and they also have Bukayo Saka, who has Nigerian roots.
The parents of the Arsenal forward are Nigerian, but there are still many Nigerian fans who have not forgiven him for opting to play for England instead of the Super Eagles.
Portugal striker Cristiano Ronaldo is suffering a stomach bug and will be left out of the team’s World Cup warm-up friendly against Nigeria on Thursday, according to his coach Fernando Santos.
Ronaldo gave an explosive interview to Piers Morgan’s show on TalkTV this week in which he criticised Manchester United and said he had no respect for the coach Erik ten Hag, who has not relied on him much this season.
The striker, 37, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, will not train on Wednesday because of the illness, which has started amid the controversy caused by his interview.
“He is suffering from gastroenteritis and will not train today for this reason,” Santos told a press conference in Lisbon.
“He won’t be ready (to face Nigeria), he’s resting, as you know, gastritis takes a lot out of players.”
Wilfred Ndidi returned to the Super Eagles team after a long time with injury, alongside Joe Aribo and Alex Iwobi leading the players in camp for the friendly with Portugal in Lisbon on Thursday.
The Nigeria Football Federation listed Jose Peseiro’s men who are in camp to include goalkeepers Francis Uzoho, Maduka Okoye, and Adebayo Adeleye, defenders William Ekong, Chidozie Awaziem, Kevin Akpoguma, Calvin Bassey, Tyronne Ebuehi, Bruno Onyemaechi, Bright Osayi-Samuel, and Ebube Duru, as well as midfielders Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo, Frank Onyeka, Alex Iwobi, and Joseph Ayodele-Aribo.
There are also forwards Moses Simon, Cyriel Dessers, Terem Moffi, Paul Onuachu, Emmanuel Dennis, and Ademola Lookman. Forward Samuel Chukwueze was expected on Tuesday night.
Following the injury to top scorer Victor Osimhen, Peseiro called on-fire Belgium-based Onuachu, the nifty Dessers, dependable Moses Simon, France-based Moffi, and the Italy-based winger Lookman.
Portugal, 1966 FIFA World Cup bronze medallists, and champions of Europe six years ago are expected to roll out their full Arsenal, including five-time Ballon D’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo – unarguably one of the best to have played the game.
Thursday’s encounter at the 50,000 -capacity Estádio José Alvalade in Lisbon is the first-ever full international between both countries, and it promises fireworks with Portugal heading to the FIFA World Cup finals in Qatar the following day and Nigeria eager to blood a crop of new frontliners after narrowly failing to make the train to Qatar.
With days away from the 2022 World Cup, several nations have released their squads for the Qatar soccer fiesta. Although the Super Eagles did not qualify for the competition, some teams have called up players of Nigerian descent to feature for their country in the Middle East nation.
Checks indicate that some sides have invited some players with Nigerian roots for the tournament which runs from November 20th to December 18th.
Ahead of the kickoff, Channels Television beams the searchlight on these players who would be wearing the colours of other nations in the world’s biggest football competition.
The Arsenal youngster burst onto the scene two seasons ago and has grown to be one of the Gunners’ key players under Mikel Arteta’s tutelage. Born in London to Nigerian parents, the 21-year-old was eligible to feature for the Super Eagles but chose the Three Lions.
Since making his debut for Gareth Southgate’s side in 2020, Saka has featured 22 times for the 1966 World Cup winners, scoring four goals in the process. The English Footballer of the Year struck thrice as the team qualified for Qatar. He is expected to extend his fine form at Arsenal to the national team aiming to go further than their semi-final finish four years ago.
Manuel Akanji – Switzerland
Another Premier League star of Nigerian lineage set to feature in the quadrennial tournament is Manuel Akanji. The 27-year-old Manchester City defender was born in Neftenbach, Switzerland, to a Nigerian father and a Swiss mother.
This would be his second appearance in the competition having featured for the Europeans four years ago. Akanji, who recently moved to England, has 42 caps and made his debut for the Red Crosses in 2017. He featured for them at the youth level and was touted to represent Nigeria before pitching his tent with his birthplace.
Noah Okafor – Switzerland
Aside from Akanji, the Swiss national team have another player of Nigerian ancestry heading to the World Cup. Noah Okafor shares a similarity with the Manchester City man in the sense that he was born to a Nigerian father and has a Swiss mother.
The 22-year-old forward, born in Binningen, played for the Europeans at every youth level but made his debut for the senior side in 2019. He was instrumental in their Qatar qualification as his first international goal sealed the World Cup ticket for Switzerland. This year’s edition would be his first outing at the quadrennial tournament.
Jamal Musiala – Germany
Away from the Swiss team, Germany also have another player of Nigerian roots in their ranks. Bayern Munich youth sensation was listed in the squad for the competition.
The former Chelsea Academy star was born to a British-Nigeria father in Stuggart and has a German mother. He moved to England at seven and featured for the English U-17 side but snubbed the nation and Nigeria for his mother’s nation at the senior level.
Nigeria had attempted to convince the 19-year-old to play for the Super Eagles in 2020, according to former team handler Gernot Rohr. Like several others, Musiala rejected Nigeria, choosing the Mannschaft instead. He made his debut for the Europeans in March 2021 and has since then played 16 more games for the side with one goal to his credit. Hansi Flick will be banking on the youth sensation to help the Germans win their first World Cup after 2014.
Karim Adeyemi – Germany
Just like Musiala, the German team will be parading 20-year-old Karim Adeyemi after Flick listed him in the squad for the quadrennial competition.
Adeyemi was born to a Nigerian father and a Romanian mother in the German city of Munich. His father reportedly moved to Germany in the 1990s to pursue a football career.
Having played for the European nation at all age-grade levels, he made his senior team debut in a World Cup qualification against Armenia on 5 September 2021.
The forward, who plays for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, joined the German side in May 2022. Before then, the striker scored 19 times for Red Bull Salzburg in the 2021-2022 campaign. Since switching to Germany, he has played four times for the side.
Ike Ugbo – Canada
Moving to North America, two players who have Nigerian roots made the cut for the Canadian national team squad. Leading the list is Ike Ugbo who plays for Ligue 1 team Troyes. He was born in London to Nigerian parents but the family moved to Canada when he was around five.
While the 24-year-old forward was eligible to represent the three nations, he played for the English side at the youth level. In September last year, Ugbo pledged his allegiance to the three-time African champions but made a U-turn two months later, committing his future to Canada.
The former Chelsea youth player then made his debut for the North Americans in a 2022 World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica on November 12. Overall, he has played eight times for the Reds since then.
Samuel Adekugbe – Canada
Another name in the Canadian rooster is Samuel Adekugbe who was born in England to Nigerian parents. The 27-year-old defender’s family later moved to Canada and the player who features for Turkish Super Lig club Hatayspor is on the plane to the Middle East nation.
He has 33 appearances for Coach Jon Herdman’s charges and is expected to help make Canada’s return to the competition – after several decades – one to remember.
Nigeria went 3-0 up but the Europeans raced back to the game, scoring thrice in seventeen minutes to peg the Flamingos back. For the third time in the tournament, Coach Bankole Olowookere’s team took to the spot kick.
The win over the Americans came after regulation time ended 1-1 while the loss to Colombia came in a 5-6 defeat on penalties. Nigeria’s last penalty shootout in the cadet championship, however, ended in a 3-2 sweet revenge for the West Africans who lost to Germany in their opening game.
Forward Opeyemi Akajaye deservedly won the Player of the Match gong for her stellar showing on Sunday, making it the third time she scooped the prize since the competition started earlier in the month.
The team is expected back in the country later in the week.
A Youcef Atal cracker, 21 minutes later, condemned the Peseiro to his first defeat to an African side since taking over the team earlier in the year.
While Tuesday’s game is just the second friendly between the nations, Nigeria and Algeria have played 21 times.
They were nine wins for each of the teams while three ended in draws.
Just last week, Nigeria had battled to a 2-2 draw with the Algerian home-based side. Both sides did not qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar but the games were expected to get the Nigerian gaffer better acquainted with the players.
For the former Super Eagles skipper, his career won’t have come this far without support from coaches, family members, fans, and teammates, among others.
“You supported me through my highs and lows, even on days that I did not live up to your expectations,” Mikel added. “I say a big thank you.”
As for those who may have been inspired by his footballing exploits, the former Lyn Oslo star urged them “to never give up on their dreams; for every time you think about quitting, remind yourself why you started.
“This is not goodbye, it’s the start of another journey, another chapter of my life. I look forward to what the future holds and I hope you will walk with me. Thank you.”
He last played for Al Kuwait SC but his contract was terminated by the club in November 2021 for undisclosed reasons. He had one year left on his contract.
The Nigerian broke into stardom following a sterling performance for the West Africans at the 2005 World Youth Championship where the country lost to a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentine team. The Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) star clinched the tournament’s Golden Ball while Mikel won the silver boot.
Around that time, Mikel was the subject of a three-way transfer saga involving Manchester United, Chelsea, and Norwegian side Lyn Oslo. He eventually signed for the London club where he won several laurels including two league titles, three FA Cups, one Champions League, a League Cup, Community Shield, and a Europa League trophy.
He was also a one-time winner of the Turkish Cup and on the international scene scored six times.
Apart from winning the 2013 AFCON, Mikel had 91 caps for Nigeria and won a bronze medal for the country at the 2016 Olympics. In the 2006, 2010, and 2019 editions of the AFCON, Mikel also helped Nigeria claim bronze. He also played at the 2014 and 2018 World Cup, captaining the team in the latter.
In the wake of his retirement, tributes have continued to pour in for the former midfielder. The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Super Eagles, and Chelsea were among the first set of persons to wish him well.
“Thank you for the memories and good luck, @mikel_john_obi” , the NFF wrote on Twitter.
“The Nigerian, who played a key role as the Blues secured a first Champions League trophy in 2012, made the announcement on his personal Instagram account having most recently been with Kuwait SC,” the club wrote on its website.
“Having given the Blues over a decade of service after signing as a fresh-faced 19-year-old, the midfielder lifted every major honour, which included two Premier League titles, the Champions League and the Europa League, among others. He clocked up a mammoth 372 appearances in a Chelsea shirt.”
Super Eagles Head Coach Jose Peseiro has set his sights on winning next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Nigeria last won the competition in 2013 and were one of the favourites heading into the 2021 tournament but surprisingly capitulated to Tunisia in the round of 16. The three-time continental champions also lost the 2022 World Cup ticket to rivals Ghana.
But Peseiro, who took over after the twin disappointments, is optimistic about Nigeria clinching the next edition of the championship.
“Algeria is a good team. Of course, our goal is to win the next AFCON, but for that, we need to create the habit to win, it’s the main point,” the coach said ahead of the friendly tie with the 2019 champions.
“You introduce some younger players, introduce the tactical works, introduce the situation and dynamics, but at the same time, you want to win; you must create the habit to win. Every time, we want to win, to become the best national team in Africa, we must create that habit, and we want to win.”
The Portuguese also spoke about the injury to Leicester City star Wilfred Ndidi who left the team’s camp on Thursday.
He said: “I think I have a better relationship with our older players and Ndidi, when he came, the fitness coach from Leicester City sent for our fitness coach because we have that connection with them saying that he (Ndid) complained in the last match.
“He (Ndidi) did training, small training because of the condition of the hamstring. I was around yesterday and I said I think it’s better we don’t use them because I don’t want to use an injured player in a friendly match because he can get more injured.”
Ndidi last featured for Nigeria in the AFCON tie against Tunisia. He missed out on the double-legged World Cup playoff with the Black Stars of Ghana.
Nigeria’s game against Algeria will hold on Tuesday, September 27th, 2022 in Oran, Algeria. The time for the match is 8:00 pm (WAT).
Super Eagles and Real Sociedad striker Umar Sadiq has undergone a successful knee operation, his club announced on Thursday.
🏥 Sadiq underwent surgery this morning. The operation was successfully carried out with no issues. He will remain in the hospital until Friday or Saturday, depending on his evolution. #AurreraRealapic.twitter.com/yD3G9dni6k
The operation to repair the ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee was performed by Dr Mikel Sanchez in Gasteiz. He will remain in the hospital until Friday or Saturday depending on his evolution.
Sadiq who joined Real Sociedad from another Spanish La Liga side, UD Almeria for a club record 20 million Euros, plus six million in potential add-ons on transfer deadline day injured his knee against Getafe in a Spanish La Liga match-day 5 clash on September 11.
His unfortunate injury which will likely keep him out of action for the rest of the season because of a lengthy post-surgery recovery time (8 to 12 months) has led to an outpouring of support from the football family with messages of encouragement on social media.
The 25-year-old bought to replace Alexander Isak following his own record transfer to Newcastle United made a scoring debut for Sociedad on September 3, bagging the equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid after coming off the bench in the second half less than 48 hours after his move from Almeria where he had scored two goals in three games to start the season.
He made his first start for Sociedad as they stunned Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford in their group e opening match of the UEFA Europa League on September 8, before sustaining the injury that will now see him miss out on the Super Eagles squad for the international friendly against Algeria on September 27.
Sodiq will also miss the prestige friendly against Portugal at the Estádio José Alvalade in Lisbon on Thursday, November 17.
The striker joined UD Almeria in the Segunda division on October 5th, 2020 for nine million Euros from Partizan Belgrade and helped them gain promotion last season, scoring 18 goals and providing 12 assists in 36 league games. Overall, he recorded 43 goals and 19 assists in 84 games across all competitions for Almeria.
While playing for Partizan in the Super Liga Srbije, he scored 23 goals and provided 19 assists in 52 games. He joined them initially on loan on July 2nd, 2019 from Italian Serie A side, A.S Roma before making the move permanent on January 30th, 2020 for two million Euros.
Sadiq started his career with Abuja college before moving to Spezia youth in 2013 and then graduating to their U-19 side a year later. His performances for Spezia caught the eyes of Roma scouts which led to a loan move to Rome in 2015 before a permanent transfer in 2016.
Sadiq also had several loan spells at Serie A sides, Bologna and Torino, NAC Breda in the Dutch Eredivisie, Scottish Giants, Rangers as well as Perugia in the Italian Serie B.
At international level, Sadiq played for Nigeria’s under 23 national team at the Rio 2016 Olympics, helping the country clinch bronze before stepping up to the Super Eagles at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon in January. He scored against Guinea-Bissau in the last group stage game.
Transfer deadline deals dominated much of the conversations in the sporting cycle this week. From England to Spain, it was fever-pitch high as clubs battled to shore up their squads for the marathon football season.
But away from the transfer madness, there was pretty much to talk about in sports this week. Actions have continued in the US Open; the race for elective posts in the Nigeria Football Football Federation (NFF) has also heightened. The home-based Super Eagles team will hope to revert a 2-0 first leg defeat to Ghana in the qualification race for the 2023 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN).
These and several others are covered in this edition of First 11, the weekly recap of major sports stories around the world.
Eagles Go For Broke
Starting from the home front, the Super Eagles Team B will be doing all to reverse a 2-0 loss to Ghana earlier in the week. Coach Salisu Yusuf’s Eagles had their wings clipped by the Black Galaxies in Ghana during the first leg qualification game for CHAN. And in Abuja, the Nigerians will hope for redemption when the second leg kicks off this weekend.
Already, Super Eagles Team A coach Jose Peseiro has linked up with the side as Nigeria plot Ghana’s downfall. When the game begins on Saturday, millions of Nigerians will expect the home-based side to revenge the Super Eagles Team A’s World Cup qualification ouster in the hands of their perennial rivals.
Parker Gets The Boot
Still on football but this time in the English Premier League where gaffer Scott Parker became the first casualty of the “sack race”. It took just four games into the new campaign for Bournemouth to dismiss Parker who led them back to the top flight. A string of poor results (three losses and one win) in August including a 9-0 thumping against Liverpool, culminated in his sack.
Former Bournemouth midfielder Gary O’Neil will take charge at the Vitality Stadium on an interim basis, the club said in a statement confirming Parker’s departure.
EPL Catches Transfer Bug
And as the action intensifies across Europe’s top leagues, English Premier League sides have beefed up their squads for the marathon games. The summer football transfer ended Thursday night but Premier League sides achieved a feat in spending. The gross spending by teams in the first division was pegged at £1.9 billion ($2.1 billion).
This eclipsed the 2017 record of £1.43 billion spent in that transfer window. Signings by Chelsea, Newcastle, Manchester United, and Arsenal among others, contributed largely to this. Deloitte’s Sports Business Group estimated the gross spending by the 20 English top-flight clubs during the transfer window that ended on Thursday was the highest in the history of the competition.
Mikel Arteta’s are on cloud nine, topping the league standings, two points ahead of holders Manchester City, a reality that strikingly contrasts their start to life last term. Arsenal were rooted to the bottom of the league after losing their first three matches last season but bounced back to push for a Champions League spot which they narrowly lost to London rivals Tottenham.
Against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, Arsenal will have their biggest test so far in the campaign. Their opponents, having recovered from a sloppy start to the season – they lost their first two matches – have a chance to make it four wins out of four. But how they will neutralise the bullets from Arsenal’s blazing cannons is yet to be seen!
Hard to Handle Haaland Scores for Fun!
Arsenal’s latest win over Fulham at the Emirates Stadium came on the same day Manchester City brushed aside Nottingham Forest in a league game. That day, Norwegian striker Erling Haaland’s first-half hat trick set the tone for a 6-0 thumping of Forest.
He proved unplayable and has silenced critics who called him “white Lukaku” after a poor outing in the Community Shield against Liverpool. The former Borrusia Dortmund forward also scored a treble in City’s 4-2 victory over Crystal Palace. In just five league games, Haaland has scored eight goals and there is no guessing that the striker, who has had rave reviews over his performances, will be a nightmare to defenders in the months to follow.
France Launches Probe
Meanwhile, France on Friday launched a criminal investigation into claims by World Cup winner Paul Pogba that he is the victim of a multi-million euro blackmail plot by gangsters involving his brother, the Paris prosecutor said.
Two investigating magistrates have been appointed to lead the probe, prosecutor Laure Beccuau said in a statement. Based on the findings of a preliminary investigation launched last month it will examine allegations — for now against persons unknown — including blackmail by an armed gang, kidnapping, and membership of a criminal conspiracy, she said, confirming a weekend statement from a judicial source.
Moving on to basketball! Nigeria’s D’Tigers failed to roar at the African qualification window for the 2023 FIBA World Cup. They were caged by Angola, 70-67, in the last game of the window on Sunday after winning and losing one game. Nigeria had beaten Guinea 89-70 after a first game loss, 78-66, to hosts Ivory Coast at the 3,500-capacity Palais des Sports Treichville.
The results leave them in a tight corner ahead of the next qualification window. Four tickets are up for grabs for Africa after the Ivorians booked a slot for the basketball showpiece billed to run from August 25 to September 10, 2023, in Japan, Indonesia, and The Philippines.
Falcons Face US Test
In football, the Super Falcons are up against the US in two international friendly games. They arrived in the US city of Kansas earlier in the week for matches which are part of preparations for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
Coach Randy Waldrum invited four of the ladies that reached the quarter-finals of the just-concluded FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup to face the heavyweights. The first game of the two-match series is billed for Saturday at the Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City. On Tuesday, the second tie of the clash with the World Cup champions holds at the Audi Field in Washington.
Peterside, Akinwunmi, Others Join NFF Race
As the Falcons battle the US, political activities are intensifying on the home front for elective posts in the NFF. President of the body Amaju Pinnick won’t be seeking re-election after two terms but the NFF first vice president Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi is among others contesting to replace him.
Aside from Akinwunmi, a former international Peterside Idah has also joined the race alongside the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Head of Safety and Security Christian Emeruwa. A former NFF first vice president Amanze Uchegbulam has equally declared for the position.
The presidential seat and other positions are up for grabs when the NFF congress holds later in the month in Benin City, Edo State.
Guinea Ready To Host Africa?
On the continental scene, Guinea’s ruling junta has told a Confederation of African Football mission that it will meet the timetable for staging the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN).
CAF has sent a team to the poor and volatile West African state to assess its progress in hosting the tournament. Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, who appointed himself president after taking power in a coup in September 2021, met with the visiting experts on Wednesday.
No Farewell For Williams Sisters?
Heading to the court, Serena and Venus Williams’ glittering Grand Slam doubles career ended abruptly at the US Open as the reunited sisters crashed out in the first round against Czech duo Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova.
The Americans in what is almost certainly their final outing together as a Grand Slam doubles duo — slumped to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 loss at the Arthur Ashe Stadium on Thursday. The Williams sisters – winners of 14 Grand Slam crowns and three Olympic gold medals — had not played together in a doubles tournament since 2018.
FIRST 11 is a weekly recap of some of the big sports stories told in a condensed form.