Nigeria, Corsica friendly ends in stalemate

The Nigerian national team and their Corsica counterparts settled for a 1-1 draw in an international friendly played between both sides on Friday.

Nigeria, Corsica
Nigeria, Corsica

Despite the myriad of chances created mostly by the Super Eagles, both teams had to rely on penalty kicks awarded during the match to find the back of the net.

It was host, Corsica that drew the first blood when debutant, Tryonne Ebuehi, was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box and a penalty was awarded against Nigeria.

Jean-Jacques Mandrichi stepped out for the kick and he hit the ball past Ikechukwu Ezenwa who was in goal for the Super Eagles.

Having found themselves on the backfoot, the Super Eagles piled pressure on the Corsica team but the Nigerian players continually fluffed their chances.

The man said to be on the radar of Arsenal, Henry Onyekuru, was among the biggest culprit on the night even as the likes of Iheanacho and home boy Alhassan Ibrahim all missed gilt-edged chances.

Succour finally came Nigeria’s way in the 80th minute when Oghenekaro Etebo was brought down in the box and Iheanacho was on hand to atone for his missed chances buy slotting in the penalty kick awarded to the Super Eagles.

The equalizer was the last goal for the day as entertain clash ended one goal apiece.

The Super Eagles will be leaving Corsica for Paris where they have another friendly date against Togo on June 1.

Nigeria: FIFA Commiserates With NFF Over Hamilton’s Death

World football ruling body, FIFA has condoled with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) over the death, last week, of former Nigeria international and coach, Paul ‘Wonder Boy’ Hamilton.

FIFA
FIFA

Hamilton died in his Lagos home after a protracted illness, at the age of 75.

In a letter signed by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, the world body wrote: “I would like to express my deepest sympathy on hearing the news of the passing of the former Nigeria national team player and coach, Paul Hamilton.

“After first coaching the Nigeria U20 national team as well as the senior national team, he went on to guide the women’s national team, the Super Falcons, to their first FIFA Women’s World Cup appearance in China in 1991, an achievement he repeated in 1995.

“On behalf of FIFA and the worldwide family of football, please allow me to extend my deepest condolences to the football community of Nigeria, and most importantly, to his family, friends and loved ones.

“We would hope that, in some way, our words of support may help bring a little bit of peace and solace in this time of sadness.”

Nigeria: Eagles Continue Impressive Show in FIFA Ranking

Super Eagles continued their impressive ratings under Gernot Rohr’s watch as Nigeria stepped up one place from 41st to 40th spot in the latest FIFA Rankings released thursday.

Super Eagles
Super Eagles

Rohr’s men who have played five games, pulling a draw against Senegal in the FIFA window in London last fortnight, are fifth best in the African ranking. The other game that would have further soared Eagles standing was against Burkina Faso in London but unfortunately didn’t hold due to visa problems for the Stallions.

The Pharaohs of Egypt, are leading the continental ranking with Senegal and Cameroon occupying the second and third places respectively with Burkina Faso in the fourth place.

Congo DR is sixth while Tunisia, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Morocco complete the list of Africa’s Top ten football nations.

Of the African lot, the Burkinabes have made the most impressions in recent times. The Stallions who are ranked 36th globally recently defeated Ghana in the Match for Third Place at the 2017 CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon to earn their stripes. The result was viewed as something of a surprise, given that they had been eliminated at the group stage of the continental fiesta back in 2015.

In the earlier stages of Gabon 2017, Burkina Faso got the better of Guinea-Bissau (2-0), Tunisia (1-0) and Ghana (1-0), and drew with hosts Gabon (1-1) and eventual winners Cameroon (1-1).

At the global level, five-times world champions Brazil have returned to what they will consider their rightful place at the top of the FIFA rankings for the first time in seven years.

The Brazilians have enjoyed an impressive revival since Tite replaced Dunga as their national team coach last year, winning all nine matches they have played under his leadership including eight World Cup qualifiers.

They continued their run in March with a 4-1 win in Uruguay and 3-0 win over Paraguay to become the first side to book their place at next year’s World Cup in Russia with four games to spare.

Brazil, who replaced arch-rivals Argentina at the top, previously led the rankings going into the 2010 World Cup where they were eliminated by the Netherlands in the quarterfinals.

In second place of the global ranking is Argentina with 2014 World Cup winners Germany in the third place.

Chile is occupying the fourth place with Colombia, France, Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland and Spain making up the world’s top ten ranking respectively.

Wilfred Ndidi Denies Reports Linking Him to Manchester United

Earlier this week The Daily Mirror reported that Manchester United as well as Arsenal could be potentially looking to poach Wilfred Ndidi away from Leicester City. A report in Nigeria cited a source named Hakeem Bello who claimed to be Ndidi’s agent.

Wilfred Ndidi
Wilfred Ndidi

Bello, this narrative claims, says the 20-year-old midfielder would definitely make the move to Manchester United if the opportunity arose. Wilfred Ndidi took to Twitter to denying the story linking him to Manchester United.

Dr. Gundry reveals the top 3 common foods that you would have never guessed were the cause of your fatigue.

Here’s the Tweet:

Ndidi says he is “200% committed” to the reigning league champions Leicester City. The Nigerian just moved to the Foxes in the January transfer window so it would be a bit odd- the idea of him moving again in the very next window. Since Craig Shakespeare took over in mid-season Leicester have shown very strong form, moving on up from relegation zone territory to safety in the middle of table.

There are many reasons for the substantial improvement in the team, but Shakespeare and Wilfred Ndidi are often cited at the top of the list.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times and NBC Chicago.com, contributes to Chicago Tribune.comBoldWGN CLTV and KOZN

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Tottenham Hoping To Fend Off Real Madrid, Man City Interest In English-Born Nigerian Midfielder

Tottenham Hotspur are hoping to persuade England star of Nigerian descent Dele Alli to remain with the London club beyond this season amid interest from overseas.

Tottenham Hoping To Fend Off Real Madrid, Man City Interest In English-Born Nigerian Midfielder
Tottenham Hoping To Fend Off Real Madrid, Man City Interest In English-Born Nigerian Midfielder

The Daily Mail says Real Madrid and Manchester City have both shown an interest in the midfielder but Tottenham believe neither club will solidify their interest during the summer.

Alli penned a new long-term contract with Spurs in September 2016 which will keep him at White Hart Lane until the end of the 2021-22 season.

The 20-year-old has already surpassed his goal tally of last season, with 18 goals in all competitions to date.

Bayern Munich and PSG have been credited with an interest in the Milton Keynes-born Alli.

Igho Kingsley

Photo Credit : premierleague.com

How Suarez swerved Arsenal for Barcelona… and Liverpool fans love him for it

It was in the Melwood gym on August 9, 2013 where Luis Suarez reconsidered what would have been “a massive mistake.”

That Friday morning, in the expansive workout area of the training complex, Steven Gerrard narrowed his eyes and bluntly asked the Uruguayan: “Do you really want to leave Liverpool Football Club for Arsenal? Or do you want to leave Liverpool Football Club for a mega team?”

Suarez listened intently as his captain explained why staying on Merseyside for another season and waiting for an offer from Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich would be a smarter decision than accepting a move to north London that summer following a provocative £40,000,000 plus £1 bid.

As Gerrard detailed his reasoning, he drew parallels between the South American trading Liverpool for the Gunners to Fernando Torres’s departure to Chelsea in January 2011. The Spaniard had felt like a “king” at Anfield before his switch sparked a swift disintegration of his relationship with the club’s supporters.

“Do you want that?” enquired the midfielder. Suarez didn’t, and moreover, Arsenal was not a destination he particularly coveted but one he pushed for out of “confusion and uncertainty.” The conversation with Gerrard swayed the attacker’s decision and ultimately helped shape his path to Camp Nou.

Since that talk amongst the exercise bikes and dumbbells, Suarez, who used to attend Nacional training aged 18 with a grey Barcelona rucksack, has recorded just three short of 100 goals. 31 of those were for the Reds in his final campaign at the club, in which he so nearly inspired a first championship in 24 years. Sixty six have been smashed in in 80 games as part of the best attack in world football alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar in the team that he has held in his heart – much like his wife Sofi – since he was a teenager.

Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, has been on the outside looking in wondering how much more formidable his side would’ve been had Gerrard not volleyed the thought of joining Arsenal out of the forward’s head. As the former Reds skipper explained: “You’ve got a chance of beating anyone in the world with Luis Suarez in your team.”

In the Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday, Wenger has to find a way to thwart the man he knew would elevate his squad to greater heights. The man who has helped modify an already fearsome Barcelona into a suped-up version of indomitableness. The man who is quite possibly the premier player in Europe presently, but works as though everyone else on the pitch is more talented than he is.

Large swathes of Liverpool’s support base will be watching the encounter at the Emirates, chiefly to cheer on their former talisman. He may be in different club colours but he’s still the street player they bowed to, who fought for every ball, flummoxed his opponents when he had it at his feet, and made fans dream in 2013-14.

In a season-and-a-half, Suarez has lifted five trophies with Barcelona. Like Torres, he held aloft the European Cup after departing L4. Unlike Torres, he heavily contributed to the triumph in the final and his feat was heavily celebrated by Reds worldwide. The duo were meant to be a deadly pairing at Anfield before the Spaniard left for Stamford Bridge in the same window Suarez was signed, but things have turned out much differently for them since January 2011.

The 29-year-old admitted in his autobiography, Crossing the Line, that he never fully visualised himself as an Arsenal player, and that had he turned out for the Gunners, “the regret would have eaten away at me when I saw the Liverpool supporters and when they saw me in the shirt of their rivals.”

While Torres publicly never said as much, his unhappiness and compunction at Chelsea was privately revealed to those he was closest to in his old dressing room. It took until April last year for much of the bad blood between the striker and the Liverpool support base to subside as his song was once again sung at Anfield during the All-Stars charity match. He was surprised, but more than that, El Nino was relieved.

Suarez was spared the ignominy Torres long-suffered, and he’ll long be adored by Liverpool fans.

His every accomplishment will be applauded, his every success saluted because for a brief but brilliant spell, he ran the show for the Reds and ran himself into the ground. And then ran some more.

Suarez has the extraordinary gift of not just being a great footballer, but helping those around him become greater.  Gerrard explained that “there was a sustained period when playing with Luis was like being under a magical spell.”

Arsenal 0-2 Barcelona: Messi double gives Luis Enrique’s men the advantage

Arsenal 0-2 Barcelona: Messi double gives Luis Enrique's men the advantage

Lionel Messi’s late double secured a seemingly decisive first-leg advantage for Barcelona as the defending champions beat Arsenal 2-0 in an absorbing Champions League last-16 clash.

Messi and his forward colleagues Neymar and Luis Suarez headed to Emirates Stadium with 91 goals between them this season, but were initially starved of opportunities by an Arsenal side playing with impressive discipline and intensity.

Suarez headed wastefully wide in the final minute of the first half, but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scuffed arguably the clearest chance of the opening 45 minutes for Arsene Wenger’s men.

Buoyed by an eye-catching spell before half-time, Barca dominated with menace after the break, although they survived a scare when Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved superbly from Olivier Giroud.

Heeding that warning, Luis Enrique’s men upped their level and Messi beat former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech for the first time in seven matches after 71 minutes.

Suarez then struck the post before Messi won and converted an 83rd-minute penalty to leave Arsenal with the steepest of uphill tasks in the Camp Nou return.

Aaron Ramsey had an early shot blocked by Javier Mascherano, the Arsenal midfielder collecting a return pass from Mesut Ozil following a wonderful backheel.

Full-back Hector Bellerin found himself in the opposition box in the 22nd minute when his deflected attempt fell invitingly for Oxlade-Chamberlain, but the England international could not beat goalkeeper Ter Stegen.

The visitors methodically tightened their grip on possession and saw Arsenal begin to flag on the stroke of half-time. Nacho Monreal was forced to clear Suarez’s prod across goal after Ramsey gave away possession before the Uruguay star nodded wide as Dani Alves volleyed a cross from Sergio Busquet’s raking pass.

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Abracadabra: MSN magic does the trick again for Barca

Abracadabra: MSN magic does the trick again for Barca

Abracadabra: That is the word Luis Enrique used to describe how he motivates Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar in the build-up to Barcelona‘s Champions League last-16 tie against Arsenal. “That’s what I tell them and the magic sparks,” he said.

It took a moment of magic from Barca’s front three to break down Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, but this performance was about much more than wizardry.

Barca, playing their seventh game this month and their fourth in the past nine days, looked tired in the first half of this match. But they knew Arsenal would work extremely hard to press and contain, so they waited patiently and took the steam out of their opponents with two hammer blows late on.

There was a sense that Arsenal needed to take their chances in this one because Barca rarely fail to score. So when an early opportunity was cleared by some last-ditch defending and later, as Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved from Aaron Ramsey, Gunners fans surely feared the worst.

Right at the end of the first half, Luis Suarez (who hit a post later on) headed wide for Barca, while Neymar will feel he should have done better with only Petr Cech to beat in the second half. Luis Enrique’s men were creating chances, yet the pretty play from previous Barca visits here was conspicuous in its absence.

Not that it mattered. Barca were brilliant in the 2-2 draw at The Emirates under Pep Guardiola in 2010, somehow failing to win it despite a first-half masterclass overseen by the Catalan coach. They then lost 2-1 the following season in another game they should have won. They did, however, claim victory both times with resounding victories in the second legs at Camp Nou.

Pep’s Barca always sought perfection and often attained it. On occasions, though, Guardiola’s great team could have played percentages and ground out results instead. That is exactly what the current crop are doing under Luis Enrique.

“I liked everything I saw,” Luis Enrique said afterwards. “We are a team that play like nobody else against sides who leave no spaces at all. We dominate all facets of the play and that’s fantastic.”

And he added: “Everybody who understands football knows you need a first half like that to have a second half like the one we saw. If they get tired, you know there will be more space.”


FULL STORY | Messi at the double for Barca


That is exactly what happened and it was fitting that when the goal finally arrived, it was all about the MSN trio. Neymar picked up an Andres Iniesta clearance, played a one-two with Suarez and found Messi in the area. The Argentine attacker, who had never netted against Cech, paused for a second and then finished off the move like a true matador.

Arsenal could consider themselves a little unfortunate to be behind, but they must have known it was coming. They should have taken their chances and couldn’t – and the trident were waiting to produce their moment of magic.

It came after 71 minutes and with only seven remaining, Barca made it two. This time, Messi was brought down by subsitute Mathieu Flamini and coolly slotted home the spot-kick to make it 2-0. Game over.

When the Argentine attacker scored four against Arsenal at Camp Nou in 2010, Arsene Wenger famously described the forward as a “Playstation”. The fantasy from that display may have been missing on Tuesday, but Barca’s best player showed he can be efficient just like his team. And that’s what makes Barca, on course for a second straight treble, even better than they were back then.

In pure technical terms, the Blaugrana reached their zenith in the Guardiola era. Under Luis Enrique, however, they are ruthless and incredibly effective. And when all else fails, there is the game’s greatest forward line to win matches – just like the MSN did again on Tuesday.

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Mikel scores but Cavani gives PSG edge against Chelsea

The much-maligned Edinson Cavani came off the bench to score the winner as Paris Saint-Germain edged Chelsea 2-1 in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.

Cavani beat the excellent Thibaut Courtois in the 78th minute at the Parc des Princes, just four minutes after coming on as a substitute, to give the French champions the advantage ahead of the second leg on March 9.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic had earlier given Paris the lead from a deflected free-kick only for a rare John Obi Mikel goal on the stroke of half-time to bring Chelsea level.

PSG’s win in what was a high-quality encounter means they have still lost just once – to Real Madrid – in 40 games this season, while it was a first defeat for Chelsea since Guus Hiddink replaced the sacked Jose Mourinho in December.

“It was a great game. A Chelsea team that people said was in difficulty showed that they are getting their colour back as well as the discipline that allows them to defend well and break with incredible pace,” PSG coach Laurent Blanc told beIN Sports.

“We expected a difficult match. It will be difficult at Stamford Bridge too but I think the Chelsea players will be saying the same thing.”

With John Terry absent, Chelsea’s reshuffled defence featured skipper for the night Branislav Ivanovic in the middle alongside Gary Cahill with Cesar Azpilicueta at right-back and Baba Rahman on the other side.

Marquinhos started at right-back for PSG after Serge Aurier was ruled out by the club for disciplinary reasons, while Marco Verratti returned to the starting line-up after a month of fitness struggles.

With the Italian midfielder pulling the strings from the off, Paris started strongly, asphyxiating Chelsea with their high press.

Such a bright opening led to chances, with Verratti seeing his shot from 20 yards beaten away by Courtois and Lucas hitting one narrowly wide inside the first five minutes.

Ibrahimovic sent a free-kick off target as Chelsea weathered the early storm and gradually grew into the game.

They should have opened the scoring, too, but when Baba Rahman’s inviting cross from the left found Diego Costa, his header from point-blank range was instinctively palmed onto the bar and over by Kevin Trapp in the home goal.

That was a key moment as Paris went on to open the scoring in the 39th minute. Mikel was booked for halting a rampaging run by Lucas at the gates of the penalty box and Ibrahimovic stepped up to smash the resulting free-kick into the net, with the aid of a deflection off the wall, for his 28th goal of the season.

However, the French champions were unable to hold onto their lead until the interval as Chelsea equalised with the final kick of the first half.

Willian’s delivery from the right was not cut out at the near post and Mikel gleefully prodded home from six yards.

It could have been worse for the home side as Trapp was forced to make himself big and save from Costa four minutes into the second half following a counterattack led by Willian.

A long spell of Paris domination followed but they were thwarted several times in their attempts to find a winner as Courtois produced an array of outstanding saves.

The Belgian tipped over a long-range thumper by Angel Di Maria and denied Lucas after the Brazilian had played a one-two with Ibrahimovic and accelerated towards the area.

He then stretched his huge frame across goal to turn behind a net-bound Di Maria free-kick, but there was nothing he could do to stop Cavani’s winner.

The Uruguayan, who has lost his place as a regular starter in the PSG side due to a poor start to 2016, played the role of super sub as he kept his cool to meet Di Maria’s flighted ball into the box with a low first-time finish.

We must respect Eagles – Egypt

Egypt coach Hector Cuper   has declared the Pharaohs’ readiness to qualify for both the Gabon 2017 Africa Cup of Nations and Russia 2018 World Cup.

The record seventh-time African champions are desperate to secure Gabon 2017 qualification after they failed to qualify for the last three editions of the finals – Equatorial Guinea and Gabon 2012, South Africa 2013 and Equatorial   Guinea 2015.

Egypt have been in great form in the Gabon 2017 qualifiers, sitting top of Group G after picking up wins over Tanzania and Chad. Nigeria are second on four points.

The North Africans face a Gabon 2017 double-header against Nigeria next month, and Cuper maintains the Pharaohs will treat every game like a cup final.   The Pharaohs are favourites to win the fixtures following Nigeria’s unimpressive performances in recent games.

Cuper, 60, said they would not underestimate any team in the qualifiers, saying they had learned some lessons from their shock 1-0 defeat by minnows Chad in their return leg Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier in Niamey last year. However, Egypt, who have not qualified for the World Cup since their group stage exit at Italia ’90 World Cup, progressed to the final round of Russia 2018 qualifiers 4-1 on aggregate.

“There is no such thing as easy opponents as journalists call them,” Cuper told FIFA.com on Tuesday.

“We must respect any team regardless of the ranking and history, because Egypt itself has suffered in the past qualifiers because it dropped points in what you call easy games.”

The former Inter Milan manager added, “I would be lying if I said that I don’t wish to avoid certain teams in the World Cup draw, but my job is to get Egypt prepared for any opponent. My job is to make the likes of Côte d’Ivoire, for instance, be worried that they will face us.

“I repeatedly tell my players that we can make people happy.”

The Eagles appear to be in disarray going into the encounters as Nigeria coach Sunday Oliseh has come under intense pressure after the team crashed out of Rwanda 2016 African Nations Championship at the group stages.