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Another trophy will be a fine way to say goodbye, says Mikel

[Image: Mikel-P.47-23062019.jpg]John Obi Mikel is leading Nigeria’s charge for the African Nations Cup title in Egypt.

John Obi Mikel was the youngest player in the Nigerian camp when the Super Eagles competed in the 2006 African Nations Cup in Egypt. Then subject of an acrimonious ownership battle between Manchester United and Chelsea, Mikel made his debut for the senior national team when he came in as a second substitute against Zimbabwe in Port Said.

It was an inspired introduction as he spent less than 10 minutes in the game when he opened his account for Nigeria.
Since then, he has been to three other championships, winning the title under Stephen Keshi in 2013. And now, the midfielder, who has been the poster boy of the Super Eagles since the likes of Austin Okocha, Kanu Nwankwo and Yakubu Aiyegbeni left the scene, is on his last leg in national service.

Many followers of the game see the current competition in Egypt as Mikel’s biggest chance of winning another trophy for Nigeria before he retires from the national team. The former Chelsea star was not part of the squad in the qualifying series to the competition. He was not even in the friendly games the team played before the last leg of preparations for Egypt, but pundits see him as the potential stabilizing factor in a team fighting for its fourth AFCON trophy.

He knows the enormity of the task before his and as team captain, Mikel has been trying to keep his colleagues focused on the task despite the hype surrounding the team.

He told the media during the team press briefing on Friday that everything was being done to ensure the Super Eagles played to their strength in all the games.

“I have been away from the team for over a year now but I was always in contact with the team and I knew the team was in good hands,” said Mikel said.
He added: “Everyone thinks we are favourites, but we are not looking at it like that… we just want to qualify and then kick on and do great things.
“The last time we were here we won, but we have missed out on a few but we are confident. There are just the three of us who have the experience but the blend in the team is good.”
On his future in the national team, Mikel said: “It is not a bad place to finish. I started here in 2006 and we came third so Egypt has always been good to me.

“This time hopefully we can do better. I am not 100 per cent sure this is my last one but maybe.”
On his sabbatical after the Russia 2018 World Cup, Mikel said: “I was always in contact with the team, coach and players. I knew everything that was going on.”

He disclosed that he wanted to play for Nigeria only when he was 100 per cent fit, adding, “The boys did well in my absence.”
Can Nigeria win the competition? “The players know what it takes to win this tournament but only three of us were in the team that won in 2013,” he said.

“It’s a very young team…there is a very good blend of young and old players, the spirit in the team is very good. We are not the clear favourites, but we can win it.”

Super Falcons refuse to leave their hotel in France until their share of the FIFA money is paid

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Nigerian Super Falcons players staged a sit-in protest last night, refusing to leave their hotel in France until all of their outstanding bonuses are paid, following the team's elimination from the Women's World Cup.  
The players told ESPN they are owed bonuses from two games, against Gambia and Senegal, from as far back as two years ago, amounting to 2 million Nigerian naira (about $5,600 U.S.), but they have been paid only half of that. They also say they are owed five days of daily allowance while at the World Cup.
Quote:"They paid us 1 million [naira] and said that is all. We want them to pay the balance. Part of that money is from two years ago, the other is from three years ago. And they are also owing us five days' daily allowance here in France.
Before the World Cup, we asked them for a meeting so that we could discuss our World Cup bonuses, like they did with the men's team last year. They ignored the letter and nobody said anything about it until now"  one player told ESPN.
The players are also demanding their share of the World Cup participation fee from FIFA, even though the tournament's organisers are not scheduled to pay those until September.  
Nigeria Football Federation president Amaju Pinnick told ESPN that all the outstanding allowances have been paid.  "We have paid them everything they are being owed," he said.
Quote:"The only thing outstanding is the participation fee from FIFA, which is not expected to come until after the tournament. But they insist that they want to get paid, as they have spoken to players from Cameroon and France, who told them they have already been paid." 
It is not the first time Nigeria's women team has staged a protest over bonuses. After winning the 2016 African title in Cameroon, the squad returned home and staged a public demonstration on the streets of the capital, Abuja, to demand payment of their outstanding allowances.  
In 2004, the team also sat in for three days at their hotel in South Africa after winning the African title until the allowances were settled.
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by Linda Ikeji at
Andy Ruiz: Anthony Joshua Is Not Good At Boxing And 'I Will Beat Him In Rematch

Andy Ruiz Jr. has sensationally claimed that Eddie Hearn started the rumour that Anthony Joshua was knocked out in sparring shortly before losing to the Mexican at Madison Square Garden.

AJ looked a shadow of his usual self as he hit the canvas four times before the fight was stopped in the seventh round, with Ruiz claiming the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight belts.

A rematch will take place in either November or December and Ruiz anticipates a repeat of what happened in New York, while he has dismissed the rumours surrounding Joshua’s performance.

Asked about the speculation surrounding AJ’s poor showing at a press conference in California on Friday, Ruiz said:

Quote:“You know what, I think Eddie Hearn or his people are trying to get something [out there about] why he lost like that you know.

“But he fought a hungry guy. I was hungry, I was mentally focused for that fight and I did not want to lose in front of my family or get beat up in front of my family.

“For the rematch it’s going to be the same, man, and I’m going to be even more prepared, more ready, I know his flaws, I can do a lot better.”

“I think the only thing he can do is just run around you know, like he’s not good at boxing, he’s not a good boxer. But it’s going to be a hell of a fight for Ruiz-Joshua II.”

See more here;[/size]

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Doctor, Rohr to monitor Abdullahi’s progress before Guinea clash

[Image: Shehu-Abdullahi.jpg]Burundi’s forward Cedric Amissi (L) is marked by Nigeria’s defender Abdullahi Shehu during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) football match between Nigeria and Burundi at Alexandria Stadium on June 22, 2019. Giuseppe CACACE / AFP

Super Eagles Coach, Gernot Rohr and the team’s medical staff will examine the extent of Shehu Abdullahi’s injury and decide whether to send him for treatment outside Egypt, an official of the team has said.
Nigeria will meet Guinea in their second group match on Wednesday and the official said the coach would not risk the defender in the game if he were not fully recovered before then.
Abdullahi lasted only 42 minutes before he was changed following a recurrence of an injury that has dogged him for the better part of this year.
According to the official, who pleaded anonymity, the Russia 2018 World Cup star has been struggling with the injury for long, but it seems what happened on Saturday was not too serious.
Rohr promises better Eagles’ performance against Guinea

[Image: Ekong-Back.jpg]Super Eagles players celebrating Odion Ighalo’s 77th minute winner against Burundi…on Saturday. PHOTO: AFP.

• ‘Akpeyi was best during training sessions’
Super Eagles’ coach, Gernot Rohr is optimistic of a better performance in Nigeria’s second game of the on-going African Cup of Nations against Guinea. The Eagles struggled to beat Burundi 1-0, but the team attributed the stuttering performance to the sickness suffered by key players just before the opening Group B fixture played at the Egyptian Mediterranean city of Alexandria on Saturday.
The 1-0 victory has placed Nigeria on top of the Group B table as Guinea and Madagascar played out a 2-2 draw in the second game of the group.At the post match conference on Saturday, Rohr said he knew the match against Burundi would be difficult for his players, as half of the team was down with fever.
“We could not make a better performance because the team of Burundi was well organised, especially in the first half and we did not find our rhythm.“I think we worked better in the second half because it took us a long time to come into the match, just as in the first half where we didn’t have opportunities to score. We knew that Burundi was unbeaten during the qualifiers.”
He added: “In our group, I think all the matches will be tough because these teams like home-based teams don’t have anything to lose. Perhaps, they know if they could organise themselves well, they will make it difficult for us.“Our plan was to make them tire with our passes which we missed in the first half. But in the second half, it worked better. Then we had to bring in Musa and Ighalo, who could not come in at the beginning of the match, as they were sick just like Samuel Kalu.
“In our preparation, we had big problems because half of the team had virus. In the last session, we lost two players, Jamiu Collins and Samuel Kalu, and that is why we had to struggle so much to win the game. “Credit must also go to my colleague (Burundi coach), who did a good job for his side,” he said.On Akpeyi’s performance, Rohr said the goalkeeper was the best during the training sessions, adding that he expects a better performance in the next game.
“The goalkeeper did not concede a goal, which is a good one for him and for the team. He stopped Burundi in the first half from a wonderful opportunity. If you remembered, the Burundi striker was alone and he disturbed him from scoring. In this situation, he was really good.

Mahrez strikes as Algeria make light work of Kenya

[Image: 000_1HS27R.jpg]Algeria’s forward Riyad Mahrez (L) fights for the ball with Kenya’s defender Abud Omar Sfantu during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) football match between Algeria and Kenya at the 30 June Stadium in Cairo on June 23, 2019. Khaled DESOUKI / AFP

Riyad Mahrez scored as an untroubled Algeria cruised to a 2-0 victory over Africa Cup of Nations underdogs Kenya in their first game of the competition in Cairo on Sunday.

Regular underachievers Algeria have lifted the trophy just once, on home soil in 1990, but are among a group of potential contenders in Egypt and will look to former African footballer of the year Mahrez for inspiration.

Prolific striker Baghdad Bounedjah fired Algeria ahead from the penalty spot on 34 minutes and Mahrez turned in a second before half-time in the second match of a Group C doubleheader at the 30 June Stadium. A highly-fancied Senegal beat Tanzania 2-0 in the earlier game.

It is almost a decade since Algeria last made an impact, reaching the 2010 semi-finals, and the north African conditions will suit a squad capable of going far.
Al Sadd’s Bounedjah, who hit a staggering 39 goals in just 21 starts in Qatar this past season, smacked wide as Algeria promptly put a Kenyan team making its first tournament appearance in 15 years on the defensive.

Youcef Belaili nearly rounded Kenya goalkeeper Patrick Matasi and then shot straight at him, while skipper Mahrez failed to make better use of two dangerous free-kicks, the second skipping wide after a deflection.

A darting run from right-back Youcef Atal eventually opened the door for Algeria after half an hour, with the adventurous Nice defender chopped down in the box by Dennis Omino.

Bounedjah calmly stepped up to roll beyond Matasi and score in his sixth game running with the Desert Foxes, triggering an outpouring of joy from a sizeable and boisterous section of Algerian supporters.

Algeria quickly bagged a second when Manchester City winger Mahrez swept in a cutback from the left by Ismael Bennacer two minutes before the break.

Victor Wanyama’s Kenya succeeded in limiting the damage in an uneventful second half, in which the notable highlight was the late introduction of Andy Delort, the Montpellier forward who recently switched his allegiance from France.

Captain Henry fires France past Brazil, into World Cup quarters


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France’s midfielder Amandine Henry (2ndR) celebrates after scoring a goal during the France 2019 Women’s World Cup round of sixteen football match between France and Brazil, on June 23, 2019, at the Oceane stadium in Le Havre, north western France. LOIC VENANCE / AFP

Women’s World Cup hosts France survived a scare to beat Brazil 2-1 in extra time and reach the quarter-finals on Sunday as captain Amandine Henry scored a dramatic winner in Le Havre.
Lyon midfielder Henry struck in the 107th minute after Thaisa’s equaliser for Brazil, following Valerie Gauvin’s opener, had forced a 1-1 draw in 90 minutes.
France will face either reigning champions the United States or Spain in the last eight in Paris on Friday.Pre-tournament favourites France will be playing in the quarter-finals for the third straight World Cup, while Brazil have now suffered back-to-back last-16 defeats after their 2015 loss to Australia.

After the chaotic scenes of the earlier last-16 tie on Sunday which saw an ill-tempered Cameroon refuse to play for several minutes during their loss to England — behaviour Lionesses boss Phil Neville described as “unacceptable” — this was another hard-fought affair, but without serious controversy.
The 41-year-old Formiga returned from suspension for Brazil to replace Andressinha in midfield alongside Marta, who broke the all-time World Cup goalscoring record with her 17th strike in the previous group-stage win over Italy.
The first sight of goal saw Marta create herself some space with clever footwork outside the box but fire wide, before Debinha saw an effort deflected past the post by the boot of Wendie Renard.
Although France were struggling to put Brazil under any pressure early on despite being roared on by a partisan crowd at the Stade Oceane, they thought they had taken the lead in the 23rd minute when Gauvin bundled Kadidiatou Diani’s cross over the line.
Both Gauvin and Brazilian goalkeeper Barbara were left needing medical attention after colliding while going for the ball, and a VAR review unsurprisingly saw the goal ruled out for a foul by the France striker.
Gauvin strikes
France were much-improved after the half-time interval, and grabbed the lead with their first shot on target in the 52nd minute.
It was Diani who caused all the problems for the Brazil defence, powering into the box and squaring for Gauvin to slide home her seventh goal in nine internationals.
Cristiane almost replied immediately for Brazil, but goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi tipped her header onto the crossbar.
The South Americans did hit back in the 64th minute, as Thaisa slammed home, with the equaliser eventually being given having originally been disallowed for an offside against Debinha.
There were no further twists in the regulation 90 minutes, though, as Eugenie Le Sommer made a total mess of a free header and Tamires had a goal ruled out for offside.
France piled on the pressure in the opening half of extra time, but were almost caught on the counter-attack as Debinha broke free, only to be denied by an excellent goal-saving block by Griedge Mbock Bathy.

Martinez, Aguero goals send Argentina into Copa America quarters


[Image: 000_1HS1KV.jpg]Argentina’s Sergio Aguero shoots against Qatar’s goalkeeper Saad Sheeb during their Copa America football tournament group match at the Gremio Arena in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on June 23, 2019. Jeferson Guareze / AFP

An early goal by Lautaro Martinez and Sergio Aguero’s late second gave Argentina a 2-0 win over Qatar on Sunday that qualified them for the Copa America quarter-finals.

Already-qualified Colombia beat Paraguay 1-0 in the other Group B match to secure a place in the last eight for both Peru, who finished third in Group A, and Uruguay, currently second in Group C.

Argentina, who finish second in Group B behind Colombia, will play Venezuela in the quarter-finals, while tournament debutants and guests Qatar are out.

Paraguay, on two points, must wait and see what happens in Monday’s Group C clash between Japan and Ecuador before finding out if they qualify as one of the two best third-place finishers.

Peru, with four points, are sure of that while only a draw between Japan and Ecuador would see Paraguay progress.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni recalled Manchester City forward Aguero for the crunch tie while Martinez kept his place at the expense of Angel Di Maria.

Asian champions Qatar made a calamitous start when a weak headed clearance from Tarek Salman fell to Martinez 12 yards out, but the Inter Milan forward sent his volley over the top.

He didn’t have to wait long for another chance though as Bassam Hisham played a suicidal ball across his box and straight to the feet of the Argentina forward, who scuffed a shot into the bottom corner after just four minutes.
The weight was lifted from Argentina’s shoulders and they played with a freedom expected of a side boasting talents such as Aguero and five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi.

Qatar played with limited ambition but their talented forwards looked dangerous when they did venture into the final third.
Hasan Khalid Al Haydos got in behind the Argentina backline and tried to chip Franco Arman but the goalkeeper got a touch to divert the ball behind, although the linesman’s flag was up and it wouldn’t have counted.

Messi burst into life with an acceleration towards Qatar’s area before slipping a pass to Aguero, who dragged his left-footed shot wide under pressure.
Aguero industry rewarded
Qatar were sporadically dangerous on the break and Portuguese-born Ro-Ro stole in at the back post to meet a Karim Boudiaf cross but couldn’t direct his volley on target.

Up the other end, Nicolas Otamendi headed over from close range when it looked easier to score.

Argentina almost scored a second after Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al-Sheeb spilled a header by Martinez causing a scramble in the box, but neither Aguero nor Martinez could poke the ball home.

Iraq-born Hisham almost made amends for his earlier gaffe with a free-kick at the end of the half but his shot, which passed through the Argentina wall, cliped the outside of the upright.

Another direct Messi run set up Aguero but his shot was deflected over by Algeria-born Boualem Khoukhi. Aguero then drew a save from Al-Sheeb with a shot from outside the area.

Qatar made few chances but when they did, Akram Afif snatched at his effort from distance when a smarter move would have been to play in a runner from midfield.

Aguero finally scored the goal his industry deserved with a purposeful run past two defenders before sending a cross-shot into the far bottom corner eight minutes from time.

Already guaranteed of winning the group, Colombia’s Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz made 10 changes to his line-up, with only Juventus forward Juan Cuadrado retaining his place.

Transfer: Unai Emery tells Arsenal board to “break the bank” for Zaha
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Arsenal manager, Unai Emery, is set to go all out to sign Wilfried Zaha and will ask the board to break the bank for his signature, the UK Sun reports.
Emery is desperate to bring in a winger this summer and the Crystal Palace star is his top target.

Arsenal’s transfer budget was limited to just £45million, following their failure to qualify for the Champions League. But the Spaniard will look to force the board to release the funds needed to sign the £55m-rated Palace winger.
Palace will play hardball with any potential suitors for the 26-year-old Ivory Coast international, who is a boyhood Arsenal supporter.
Zaha has seen his transfer valuation rocket, after becoming one of the most feared forwards in the Premier League.

He scored 10 goals and created as many assists last season.

Transfer: Unai Emery tells Arsenal board to “break the bank” for Zaha
[Image: Wilfried-Zaha-CRYBOU.jpg]

Arsenal manager, Unai Emery, is set to go all out to sign Wilfried Zaha and will ask the board to break the bank for his signature, the UK Sun reports.
Emery is desperate to bring in a winger this summer and the Crystal Palace star is his top target.

Arsenal’s transfer budget was limited to just £45million, following their failure to qualify for the Champions League. But the Spaniard will look to force the board to release the funds needed to sign the £55m-rated Palace winger.
Palace will play hardball with any potential suitors for the 26-year-old Ivory Coast international, who is a boyhood Arsenal supporter.
Zaha has seen his transfer valuation rocket, after becoming one of the most feared forwards in the Premier League.

He scored 10 goals and created as many assists last season.

Transfer: Eto’o tells Salah new club to join, blasts Egypt 
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Cameroon legend, Samuel Eto’o has advised Egypt superstar, Mohamed Salah, to leave Liverpool.
He also told the former Chelsea star to join La Liga champions, Barcelona.

Eto’o spoke to journalists after Egypt’s 1-0 African Cup of Nations victory over Zimbabwe on Friday.
Eto’o, who played for Everton and Chelsea in the Premier League, hit out at Egypt’s style of play in the victory and believes Salah’s team-mates must offer him more support on the field.
“If Egypt keep performing this way they will suffer in the upcoming games,” Eto’o said.

“The Egyptian national team suffered, especially in attack, as Salah was always far from the strikers and that’s why he wasn’t very present during the game.
“Everyone was passing the ball to Salah; the team has to start playing as a unit which wasn’t the case.”
Asked about the chance to join either Real Madrid or Barcelona the Cameroonian added, “Barcelona would be a better fit.

“Real gave me the opportunity to leave Africa but I know Barcelona’s style and I think it would be better for him.
“If he has the chance to play in the best league of the world, which is the Spanish one, he has to sign for Barcelona.
“Mo has everything to be one of the best players in the world.”

Transfer: Solskjaer reveals Man Utd players he will be taking for preseason tour
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Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, has said he will be taking an almost full strength squad to Asia, for their upcoming pre-season tour.
However, it remains to be seen whether Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku, will travel with their futures in doubt.

United are not heavily affected by Copa America and the African Cup of Nations, with only Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez on national team duty.
This means Solskjaer will be able to take a full complement of players to Australia for the first leg of their tour.
“Summer has been kind to us in that respect – so we’ll travel to Perth with the full first team squad.

“Everyone should be available to be picked – hopefully they’re fit when they come back – so the first team is going to be there,” Solskjaer said via the club’s Facebook page.
United will begin their pre-season against Australian A-League premiers Perth Glory on July 13 at Optus Stadium, before taking on Leeds United at the same venue four days later.
“To play against (A-League premiers) Perth Glory is always a good reference point on how the leagues compare.

“Games against Leeds United have always been huge for us. I’ve played in quite a few – both on-and-off the pitch there is some rivalry,” Solskjaer said.
Following the two matches Down Under, the Red Devils face Inter in Singapore on July 20, before wrapping up their tour against Tottenham in Shanghai on July 25.

Super Eagles To Get $95,000 Each For AFCON Win

The Super Eagles players are expected to get $95,000 each, if they win the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON ongoing in Egypt. The players who have already been guaranteed $10,000 for their 1-0 win over Burundi on Saturday, are expected to receive $20,000 if they win their remaining Group B matches against Guinea and Madagascar. The players will receive $12,500 should they record another win in the round of 16. Sports Extra also reported that they will get $15,000 and $17,500 respectively for victories in the quarter-final and the semi-final, while a win in the final will see the three-time AFCON winners earn a $20,000 match bonus each.

A member of the Nigeria Football Federation’s Reforms Committee, Osasu Obayiuwana, who confirmed that the Super Eagles players will get $95,000 each if they win the 2019 AFCON, said “Group stage wins: $10k; Round of 16: $12.5k; QF: $15k; SF: $17.5k. And if they win the final: $20k. So, each player would earn $95,000 for winning AFCON2019.”

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Mourinho to join Newcastle on one condition

 June 24, 2019
 John Owen Nwachukwu [/url]

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Former Manchester United boss, Jose Mourinho will only join Newcastle United on one condition, according to Sportmediaset.

The Portuguese will become manager of the newly promoted side only if Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan completes his takeover of the club.

Newcastle on Monday confirmed that their manager, [url=]Rafa Benitez, will leave the club once his contract expires on June 30.

Mourinho has been viewed as a possible replacement for the Spaniard.
The Portuguese tactician has been out of management since leaving Man Utd in December.

The newspaper reports that Mourinho is named as a possible successor to Benitez and it’s even noted that he could take former Inter star Marco Materazzi with him to form part of his backroom staff.
However, the report noted that Al Nehayan’s take over is one crucial factor which will determine whether or not he will return to England so soon.
And until the takeover deal is done, it’s highly unlikely that Mourinho will step in.

The former Chelsea manager will ultimately want to join a club capable of spending big and competing for major honours moving forward.

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