CAF Champions League: Rangers Held To A Draw

[highlight]Enugu Rangers, Nigeria’s representative in the 2013 CAF Champions League could only scrape a 0-0 draw against Angola’s Recreativo Libolo on home soil at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium yesterday.[/highlight]

With this result, Enugu Rangers has boxed itself and its chances of moving to the next round of the competition as they will hold by the Angolan club for the second leg in a fortnight to end the third round tie which will determine who moves on or bow out.

It was rather unfortunate for Rangers as from the blow of the whistle, it was an attacking strategy but for the Angolan keeper Landu ensured that Rangers didn’t get the much desired win on home soil as he stopped all efforts to get the ball behind him failed even though Rangers were gifted an opportunity to lead through Emeka Eze in the dying minute but he went off target, ending the game at a drab 0-0 draw.

Goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim captained Enugu Rangers into the encounter. it would be recalled that Agbim and another Rangers players Sunday Mba were in the heat of a transfer saga that left Rangers an option of paying quickly for Agbim’s transfer fee to Warri Wolves to ensure the goalkeeper get registered for the encounter because Agbim was the only fit goalkeeper Rangers could boast ahead of the CAF Champion league clash of Sunday.

Emenike Bitter With NFF, Keshi For Neglect

Emenike; Nigeria’s top scorer at the recently concluded Afcon 2013 is not a happy man right now and he has expressed his unhappiness over his neglect by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the coach of the Super Eagles Stephen Keshi.

It is no longer news that the Nigeria Super Eagles are now African champions at the event which took place in South Africa, but it was during the Afcon 2013 tournament that Emenike suffered a hamstring injury against Mali and that has kept the utility player on the bench for weeks after the tournament.

According to the player, after the Afcon 2013 tournament, he was abandoned and his injury became his own responsibility. But his club stood by him during this time even though he sustained the injury while away on National Duty; a responsibility NFF and Keshi shelved.

Emenike used the opportunity to thank his club for their support and effort in his recovery process during the hamstring injury even though he wasn’t on duty for his club when he sustained the injury but despite that they stood by him.

“I must give kudos to my club for taking good care of me even though I didn’t get the injury while playing for them,” he said.

The player said he is embittered by the attitude that Keshi and the NFF put up towards his injury as they never bothered to check up on him or even place a call, indicating that the football body and even Keshi didn’t do well at all.

“I must be honest with you, I have not been treated well by the coach and the NFF because they ignored me so soon, so fast,”.

“Nobody from NFF and the coach have called to ask me about my injury. I am bitter about this.

“It is unfair and I can tell you that is why some players don’t come to give their best for the national team.

“When a player gets injured on national duty, I think the country’s football authority and coach ought to keep in touch to let him know he is loved and cared for.

“I am not a use-and-dump player. I will not act as one at all because my club career is very much important to me than anything.”

“I am not worried about that but I just need to tell them it’s unfair. It is not everything that is money, but a call just to show you care could change someone’s problem at a particular time.”

“I can’t wait to return to my best form. I feel like playing and banging in the goals for my club right now.

“I am happy with my rehabilitation and I will start joggling soon and I believe I will respond well because I have missed the game so much.”

Arsenal topples Montpellier in UCL clash

Other English team in Champions League action last night recorded success as Arsenal opened their Group B campaign with a 2-1 victory in Montpellier. After going behind to a Younes Belhanda goal in the ninth minute, Arsenal struck twice in three minutes through Lukas Podolski and Gervinho and hung on despite second-half pressure from the French champions.

Arsenal was out to win even though it was not all good for the Gunners as the Assistant Manager Steve Bould had to charge following Wenger’s UEFA match ban.

Bould was pleased with the result and had special words for Podolski, who scored his third goal in three matches for his new team saying it was difficult for Arsenal because the Gunners were a bit tired in the second half after perfect execution in the first but it was very humid and the crowd got behind them in the second half.

He continued saying ‘Podolski has made a real impact because he has never any finisher as good as Podolski-ever on every foot he is present’.

Bould added that the win would give the team’ a psychological boost for their Barclays Premier League match away to City on Sunday.

Meanwhile, three-time champions Manchester United who are looking to play a third European Cup final at Wembley, having beaten Benfica in 1968 and lost to Barcelona two years ago, are at home to Galatasaray, the Turkish champions today.

The new European Champions Chelsea will begin their title defence today night also to host Italian champions Juventus at Stamford Bridge.

It would be recalled that Chelsea defeated Bayern Munich to win their first European Cup in May.

MTN World Nigeria golfers championship

One of the major telecoms company MTN Nigeria hosted the MTN World Nigeria golfers championship.

Chelsea to face Juventus in Champions’ League group

Chelsea; last season’s Champions League winner and a first timer in the realm of Champions League winners has been pitched against Italian giants Juventus in the race to defending their title which they were crowned with last season in the group stages of the competition.

Last season EPL champions Manchester City has also been fixed to face Spanish giants Real Madrid who has been said to have been handed the toughest of all the draws by pundits because Real Madrid will be locking horns with three league champions in Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax in Group D.

The Spanish champion beat Ajax 3-0 both home and away in last season’s competition as it will be itching to bid for a record 10th title at home against the Premier League champions.

Champions League winner Chelsea will begin the defense of its title at home against Italian giant Juventus, while Real Madrid will face Manchester City in the tournament’s toughest group.

The group stage pitched the holders against a Juventus side that stormed to the Serie A title and was unbeaten in all competitions last season apart from the Italian Cup final was done today.

Group E includes Shakhtar Donetsk and Champions League debutant Nordsjaelland of Denmark.

With all four teams winning their leagues last year, it is no surprise Group D has been pinpointed as the toughest group.

Juventus should qualify for the knockout stage, along with Chelsea, which knocked the Serie A side out of the competition in 2009.

Meanwhile, Nordsjaelland is expected to do little more than make up the numbers in Group E.

Bayern Munich, last season’s runner-up, is in Group F with Valencia as well as Lille and BATE Borisov.

Four-time winner Barcelona faces Benfica, Spartak Moscow and Celtic.

Manchester United, which failed to clear the group stage last season, also has a relatively weak group with Braga, Galatasaray and Cluj.

Seven-time winner AC Milan was drawn with Zenit St. Petersburg, Anderlecht and Malaga – another Champions League debutant.

French champion Montpellier makes its debut in the competition against Arsenal, Schalke and Olympiakos. Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud scored 21 goals for Montpellier last season, finishing as the joint top scorer in the French league.

Big-spending Paris Saint-Germain returns to the Champions League after an eight-year absence and will play Porto, Dynamo Kiev and Dinamo Zagreb.

Britain still on course for Gold medal rush- BOA

The Olympic association of host country Britain in the on-going Olympic tournament in London said the GB team are still on course for medal rush especially the old medal category, a category that determines the position on medals table.

This media stunt was called for after a mixed up start by the host as the Host country could only manage to win two silver medals during the midday of day four of the tournament and the much-awaited gold medal is still not on their record till this moment.

The Olympic association of Britain is however optimistic in the clinching of the gold medals said BOA chef de mission Andy Hunt saying further that the team is confident in mentality so it does make sense if the team is not delivering.

The men’s team artistic gymnastics competition earned them a Bronze in what was tagged a fantastic result, and it was celebrated overnight and this morning while weightlifter Zoe Smith got a new British record and according to Andy Hunt, it is an historic outcome of a medal for the first time as it was a first in the event for a century.

Four years ago Team GB won 19 gold medals at the Beijing Olympics and with that they finished fourth on the medal table.

Hunt was however hopeful that there are still medal opportunities coming from Rowing, track cycling, time trial, sailing, triathlon, open-water swimming.

Team GB are being headed by Australia who has been tagged as arch-rival of the Britain as they have been able to get a gold medal and they hope that that won’t take long to change.

Falconets billed for Korea August 1 – NFF

The Under-20 female of Nigeria the Falconets has been confirmed by the football management body of the country;the NFF to be leaving the country for Korea by the first of August to boost their preparations for the FIFA U20 female World Cup taking place in Japan another Asia country.

NFF Spokesperson on this particular matter, the General Secretary of the local football governing body, Musa Amadu said 25 players and 11 officials have been enlisted to intensify their build-up for the World Cup in Korea before they fly out to Japan.

It would be recalled that the Falconets representing Nigeria in the same competition two years ago when they became the first African female team to reach the final of a FIFA tournament.

And for this year’s edition,the Falconets are sitting in Group B with  Brazil, South Korea and Italy.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal’s only threat – Maradona

Former controversial Argentine player, Diego Amando Maradona has singled out Real Madrid Striker and former Manchester United forward man; Cristiano Ronadlo as the only threatful player Paulo Bento has on his squad wearing Portuguese national team jerseys for Euro 2012, claiming that Portugal has one of the weakest line-ups in the tournament.

The loud Argentine who was formerly the coach of his country’s national team expressed his belief Portugal will struggle in the European Championship to make an impact if at all there will be any, as Coach Paulo Bento has arguably one of the weakest sides in this tournament.

Portugal will be having their first acid test against Germany today, while Netherlands take on Denmark in the other Group B fixture.

Now coaching Al Wasl, Maradona tipped the Seleccao to crash out at the first hurdle, pointing out that Cristiano Ronaldo is their only player who can make the difference as Portugal got qualification through playoff to be in EURO 2012.

Moreover the national team has not been enjoying the support their followers since the squad messed up at home against Turkey despite having Ronaldo on ground; this tells you that Ronaldo cannot do it alone if he lacks vibrant support from all corners, Maradona said.

Commenting on the Netherlands versus Denmark game which is also slated for today, he said the Oranje men will too much Denmark to curtail or handle as very few national teams can match their prowess on-field in terms team and player to player talent.

EURO 2012: Jermaine Defoe loses father, flies home

England football squad for the EURO 2012 tournament is one man short as Striker Jermaine Defoe returned home from Poland where the tournament opened today with news of father’s death Jimmy who died overnight.

On hearing the sad news, Jermaine flew back to England and it has been confirmed that the striker could miss England’s opening game against France which will be played on Monday.

Jermain’s father; Jimmy has been battling throat cancer for a while now before he died early hours of today.

The English Football Association released a statement to confirm the return of the Tottenham star saying: “England striker Jermain Defoe has returned home to England this morning following the passing of his father overnight. Jermain will re-join the England Euro squad in due course. There will be no replacement player called in.’

Defoe left England’s hotel ten minutes before the rest of the squad boarded a coach for their first training session in Poland having only arrived in the country on Wednesday evening.

Tottenham Hotspur passed on their condolences to the forward. A statement on their website said: “Jermaine Defoe has returned home from the England squad base in Poland this morning after receiving the sad news of the passing away of his father overnight.”

England players paid their respects to Jermaine, who grew up in Beckton and is currently a supporter of many local charities, at press conferences this afternoon.

EURO 2012: England can’t make it without Rooney – Nani

Portugal winger and Manchester United forward man, Nani opined that England will not go far into the Euro 2012 tournament not talk of making it out of the group stage as Wayne Rooney is not in the line-up of the three lions.

Rooney got himself suspended after the opening two games in Ukraine as he was red-carded in the qualifying clash when England faced Montenegro in October 2011.

A major headache that is for England Manager Roy Hodgson who is looking at either Danny Welbeck or Andy Carroll as possible replacements for the England striker as they prepare to face France  and Sweden on Monday and June 15th respectively.

Rooney teammate at Manchester United expressed his fear that not pitching Wayne Rooney for England will the campaign in EURO 2012 earlier than planned for he is a key player for England that will be missed in the two games and the spate of injuries to key players could mean England will be on an early plane out of Ukraine.

According to the 25 year old Portuguese player, “Rooney is angry about his absence because he knows he’s the man to score goals and he won’t be there working for the team. I sincerely want England to reach the quarter-finals, but it’s not going to be easy”.

He said the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry are vulnerable because they are suffering in all departments of the team as these players are so important for the team and their replacements are not at the same level.

However, England captain Steven Gerard claims the lower expectation levels on his side may actually work in their favour this time around.

Lampard injures thigh in training

Frank Lampard; Chelsea player and England midfielder who was selected amongst English players  that will be representing England in EURO 2012 tournament has suffered a thigh injury during training today.

It has not been confirmed yet if the midfielder will still make the EURO 2012 squad until after a scan is run before the decision will be made, however Roy Hodgson the England manager stood Liverpool midfielder;  Jordan Henderson on as a replacement in case Lampard falls short of making the squad.

The 33-year old who just joined up with the England squad after an extended break following Chelsea’s Champions League final victory, will be assessed by Hodgson’s medical team before any decision is taken about his participation in the finals in Poland and Ukraine.

England’s first group match against France is just 12 days away and Hodgson can ill-afford any more injury problems in midfield after Manchester City’s Gareth Barry was ruled out of the Euros with a tear of his lower abdomen.

Hodgson has one more friendly, against Belgium at Wembley on Saturday, before his 23-man squad fly to their Polish base next week.

Hodgson has already gambled on the fitness of Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck, who hasn’t played since April 30 when he sustained an ankle injury in the derby defeat at Manchester City, and Liverpool defender Glen Johnson, who has been struggling with an infected toe.

Although Lampard wasn’t certain to beat out Steven Gerrard and Scott Parker for the central midfield berths in Hodgson’s starting line-up against France, it would still be a major blow as the Chelsea star has been in superb form, playing key roles in the Champions League and FA Cup triumphs, over the final weeks of the season.