Ronaldo Beats Messi, Neymar To Win Fifth Ballon d’Or

Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo won a record-equalling fifth Ballon d’Or award for the year’s best player on Thursday.

The Real Madrid forward’s second successive win drew him level alongside Barcelona rival Lionel Messi on five Ballons d’Or, after the Argentinian took second in the vote, with Brazilian Neymar third.

The 32-year-old was the top-scorer in last season’s Champions League as Real successfully defended the trophy with victory over Juventus in June and also led the Spanish giants to their first La Liga title in five years.

“Of course I feel happy. This is something I look forward to every year,” Ronaldo said at the ceremony at the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

“The trophies won last year helped to win this award. Thanks to my Real Madrid team-mates. And I want to thank the rest of the people who helped me reach this level.”

Ronaldo, who also won the FIFA Men’s Player of the Year award in October, added the 2017 Ballon d’Or to his previous wins in 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2016.

He scored 42 goals in all competitions for Real last season, and also netted 15 times in European World Cup qualifying.

Ronaldo will lead Portugal at next year’s World Cup in Russia as he looks to add football’s greatest title to the 2016 European Championship win when the Portuguese beat hosts France in the final.

Messi and Ronaldo have now shared the last 10 Ballons d’Or since the latter’s first win after leading Manchester United to the 2007-08 Champions League title.

“I hope to play at this level for a few more years, I hope the battle with Messi continues, things happen for a reason,” he added.

“I feel good this season and we’ll see what we win at the end of the year.”

When asked if he would like to finish his career at the Santiago Bernabeu, Ronaldo said: “I’m happy at Real Madrid, I want to stay there… If possible.”

The prestigious France Football magazine award, which was first won by Englishman Stanley Matthews in 1956, is decided upon by a journalists’ ballot, with each naming a top five from a list of 30.

– Neymar settles for third again –
It was a replica first two from 2016, which was the first year after FIFA ended its association with the Ballon d’Or and restarted its own Player of the Year award.

Neymar will be hoping to take over the mantle of Ronaldo and Messi, 30, in the coming years after coming third for the second time, having finished fifth last year.

The 25-year-old left Messi’s Barcelona during the close season in a world-record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, where he has already scored 15 goals this season.

“Neymar has a lot of talent, a lot of potentials, and I’m sure he’ll have some chance to win in the future,” Ronaldo said.

Veteran Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon finished fourth after helping Juventus to the Champions League final, while Real’s Croatian midfielder Luka Modric rounded out the top five.

Centre-back Sergio Ramos was the highest-ranked Spaniard and the third Real player in the top 10, one ahead of French rising star Kylian Mbappe in seventh.

Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante was the highest Premier League representative, with Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and England’s Harry Kane completing the top 10.

AFP

NFF To Increase Gernot Rohr’s Salary

The Nigeria Football Federation has given Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr a pay rise in the new contract offer made to the coach who guided Nigeria through a seamless World Cup qualification campaign.

The German-born Rohr has already signed the contract that will see him in charge of the Super Eagles beyond 2019. “We offered him a new contract which he has accepted,” NFF president Amaju Pinnick said.

“They are going about the documentation now. His contract expires after the World Cup but we have offered him another two years with a slight pay increase. “He has radiated being that father figure for the team and has made the players understand that if “I lead well, you guys will follow well”.

The team spirit is what has been counting for us on the field and off the field. “He has been able to instil in the boys a sense of patriotism, a sense of discipline, and he’s been able to show them that if you are not disciplined then you cannot make an impact. “Gernot has been exceptional as a coach.”

Pinnick also paid tribute to Nigeria captain John Mikel Obi. “Mikel Obi has been super,” added Pinnick. “He has carried the team so well and they believe in him.” “We are very happy with what we have been able to mould together because it is very rare in Nigeria.

In the past, you’ve had several leaders in the Super Eagles but now we have just one Super Eagles. “The team spirit is what has been counting for us on the field and off the field.”

2018 FIFA World Cup: 1.3m Tickets Requested In 24 Hours

Less than 24 hours of resumption of sales of the 2018 FIFA World Cup tickets, a total of 1,318,109 tickets have been ordered.

Ticket sales for the world football tournament in Russia resumed on Wednesday exclusively on FIFA website and the excitement sparked by Friday’s final draw brought another wave of worldwide interest.

As the random selection draw sales period goes on until January 31, 2018, fans are able to apply for individual match tickets for all matches (except for the opening and the final), venue-specific tickets and supporter tickets.

In the event that the number of tickets requested exceeds the available inventory, allocation will be based on a random selection draw procedure.

Fans are advised that during the current sales period, ticket applications could be submitted at any time until midday (Moscow time) on January 31, 2018.

No preference was given in respect of the date of submission (i.e. earlier submissions would not be preferred or have better chances of success than later submissions).

Currently, most applications have come from Russia, while international demand remains high and accounts for 34 per cent.

Fans from Argentina, Peru, Mexico, USA, Colombia, Brazil, Morocco, Egypt, China and Poland all currently rank in the top 10.

Tickets could be purchased online using Visa payment cards or Visa Checkout.

Visa is the official payment services partner of FIFA.

More details related to the sales timeline, ticket products, prices, payment methods and other important information would be available on FIFA website. (NAN)

Nigeria Seal June Friendly With England

Nigeria’s Super Eagles are set to play England in a World Cup warm-up game in June, the general secretary of the Nigeria Football Federation Mohammed Sanusi has said.

“We plan to play a friendly against England in June, before the World Cup,” he said, adding that the venue and other details of the match were still to be worked out.

Both Nigeria and England will feature at next year’s World Cup in Russia.

The Super Eagles are drawn in Group D along with Argentina, Croatia and Iceland, while England are in Group G with Belgium, Panama and Tunisia.

Both countries have clashed once at this level, in November 1995, when England won 1-0 at Wembley courtesy of a David Platt headed goal.

Sanusi also said the Eagles would play at least one friendly before Russia 2018 in the country’s capital Abuja to show the team’s appreciation for the support of both the Nigerian government and people.

AFP

FG Budgets N3Bn For Super Eagles #Russia2018 Campaign

The Federal Government has planned N3bn to empower the Super Eagles to have have a successful outing at the 2018 World Cup 2018 which begins on June 14 in Russia.

The Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung, udisclosed this to State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting he had with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

Dalung said while sponsors and partners would raise part of the money, the substantial part of the “conservative budget” would be provided by the Federal Government.

“We have a preservationist spending plan of about N3bn however out of that N3bn, FIFA will raise about N900m; our sponsors and partners are likewise going to raise N600m. Government will moderately raise about N2bn or N2.5bn to complement,” the minister said.

He said plans were in progress to guarantee that the players get their allowance latest by March 2018.

“One of the difficulties we have been facing in sports administration is the welfare of the players and the officiating team and we plan to set a new approach to deal with the topic of welfare.

“By March, we intend to start paying the players their allowances, camping allowances upfront. That will go a long way to boost the morale of the players and their confidence too.

“The new strategy for administration in football has taken the pattern of change We will likewise guarantee that there is solidarity inside the football family.

“Unity, too, is a key factor going by some of the reports we had in the past where poor performances were attributable to lack of unity between the family, the technical team, the officials and the players. This time, unity has to be promoted.

“finally, we will likewise guarantee that government makes funds available on time. That is the reason the budget has since been sent to the President for a unique intervention

He said the government was comfortable with the group the team belong to despite the presence of Argentina.

He said, “We are comfortable with the team because having tested Argentina which is a highly ranked team in the group, we can say confidently that with good work, good training, good welfare for the players and team spirit, we will top that group going by the disposition of our national team

“After the groupings, Nigeria falls within Group D and we appear to be the underdog going by the ranking of the teams.

“But I think ranking is more or less a paper job, what is very important is how you will perform and I believe that we are comfortable with the teams.

“Some people have been arguing that Argentina did not present their best, but we also have some players we didn’t invite and we also intend to invite them. It is an issue that is going to be determined practically by the level of preparation of the Nigerian team. Don’t forget that the Nigerian team had enjoyed a formidable home support and they are inspired to deliver.

“So we will engage in more friendlies to try and determine our strength and areas of improvement before the final competition.”

Dalung said the government would mobilizen3 a strong delegation that will support the team because of its belief that sports is an about number.

Russia Banned From 2018 Olympics

Russia has just received their punishment for doping during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. According to reports the country isn’t allowed to participate in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the Russian flag and anthem will be excluded from the Opening Ceremony, and Russian government officials won’t be allowed to attend. Russia will also need to pay to form a new Independent Testing Agency.

Recall that Russia was accused of government-ordered doping during the Sochi games, and Russia’s former anti-doping director Grigory Rodchenkov admitted to helping athletes dope. A team put together by Russia’s sports ministry opened athletes’ urine samples and replaced them with clean ones. The World Anti-Doping Agency conducted a two-month study and confirmed that the reports of the doping program were true, and Russia’s track and field team was banned from the summer 2016 Olympics in Rio.

Olympic hopefuls in Russia aren’t totally at a loss because of the ruling. Athletes who have a history of passing drug tests will be able to compete under the name “Olympic Athlete from Russia” wearing a neutral uniform. But they can’t earn any medals for their country.

This is the harshest punishment a country has received for doping in the history of the Olympics, according to the New York Times. At the end of the PyeongChang games, the International Olympic Committee may opt to “partially or fully lift the suspension,” depending on how the country cooperates.

 

PSG, Bayern Fans Clash In Munich

German police broke up a mass brawl after around 60 supporters of Bayern Munich and rivals Paris Saint-Germain clashed at Munich’s main railway station ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League match.

One French fan had to be treated for a head injury after the brawl broke out late on Monday night and supporters wearing masks had to be separated by police with batons.

Around 30 PSG fans were questioned by Munich police, while three Bayern fans were found to be carrying weapons and were arrested on assault charges.

Around 4,000 PSG fans are expected at the match which was already flagged up by authorities as at risk of violence.

Both clubs are through to the last 16 and will meet at Munich’s Allianz Arena with Bayern needing to win at least 4-0 in order to finish as group winners after losing 3-0 in Paris last September.

AFP

D’Tigers Drop Six Spots In FIBA World Ranking

Nigeria’s D’Tigers dropped six places in the latest FIBA World Ranking released on Tuesday.

D’Tigers were one of the top five teams that dropped more that three steps in the ranking along with New Zealand, Egypt, Mozambique and Rwanda.

The runner-up at the 2017 FIBA AfroBasket championship, D’Tigers, finished the month of November in 32nd position from their previous 26th in the world ranking amassing 211.4 points, but retained their status as the best team in Africa.

Angola, who were second in the African zone retained their second place despite not moving a step up, while Senegal are in third position with 178.2 points, and 36th in the world ranking.

Current African champions, Tunisian are in fourth position with 125.1 points while, Egypt, Cote d’Ivoire (65th in the world), Morocco (67th,) Cameroon (70th), Mali (74th) and Central African Republic (79th) in that order occupy the remaining positions in the ten positions in Africa.

In the world ranking, USA remain the top team in the world and they are followed by Spain, Serbia, France and Lituania in the top five.

Kosovo, Chile, Armenia, Chad and Syria are the biggest movers.

Moses, Iheanacho, Iwobi, Ndidi To Know FA Cup Opponents Tonight

Five Nigerian internationals Alex Iwobi, Victor Moses, and Leicester trio of Wilfred Ndidi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Ahmed Musa will know their foes in the third round of the English FA Cup today (Monday) when the draw holds this evening.

Iwobi’s Arsenal are the current holders of the cup and eager to claim the trophy for the 14th time this season.

Last year’s beaten finalists Chelsea, Leicester City and Arsenal are among the 44 teams from the Premier League and Championship to be joined by 20 other teams that progressed from round two of the competition in the draw for the third round.

That means that a total of 64 teams will be in the hat, making 32 match-ups in the next stage.

The ties will take place on the weekend from Friday, January 5, until Monday, January 8.

Leicester City have not made the quarter-final since 2012 when they lost 5-2 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge while Chelsea have won the English FA Cup seven times.

FA Cup third round draw ball numbers
1 Bournemouth
2 Arsenal
3 Aston Villa
4 Barnsley
5 Birmingham
6 Bolton
7 Brentford
8 Brighton
9 Bristol City
10 Burnley
11 Burton Albion
12 Cardiff
13 Chelsea
14 Crystal Palace
15 Derby
16 Everton
17 Fulham
18 Huddersfield
19 Hull
20 Ipswich
21 Leeds
22 Leicester
23 Liverpool
24 Manchester City
25 Manchester United
26 Middlesbrough
27 Millwall
28 Newcastle
29 Norwich
30 Nottingham Forest
31 Preston
32 QPR
33 Reading
34 Sheffield United
35 Sheffield Wednesday
36 Southampton
37 Stoke
38 Sunderland
39 Swansea
40 Tottenham
41 Watford
42 West Brom
43 West Ham
44 Wolves
45 Woking OR Peterborough
46 MK Dons
47 Newport County
48 Wycombe
49 Port Vale OR Yeovil
50 Shrewsbury
51 Doncaster
52 Slough OR Rochdale
53 AFC Wimbledon
54 Stevenage
55 Mansfield
56 Luton Town
57 Bradford
58 Blackburn OR Crewe
59 Fylde OR Wigan
60 Gillingham OR Carlisle
61 Notts County
62 Forest Green OR Exeter
63 Fleetwood OR Hereford
64 Coventry City

2018 World Cup: English FA Gives Southgate Nod To Continue His Job

England manager Gareth Southgate has been told his job is safe even if his side lose every game at next year’s World Cup in Russia.

Southgate oversaw a successful qualification campaign for the finals, where England will face Belgium, Tunisia and Panama in the group stage.

FA chief executive Martin Glenn says the manager will retain his position “for the next few tournaments”.

“We have a long-term plan. You’ve seen some of the fruits of it,” Glenn said.

Southgate, 47, took charge of England on a permanent basis 12 months ago, signing a four-year contract.

“Long-term plans are hard to defend when the short-term results go against you,” added Glenn, who was quoted in several national newspapers.

“He’s not looking at Russia as a free pass. The World Cup’s a really important staging post for our development, I think.

“We go out there wanting to win it but also being realistic. No-one wants to have a bad World Cup but we’re confident he’s the right guy to take us through for the next few tournaments.”

England’s future hopes have been buoyed by age-group successes this year, including Under-17 and Under-20 World Cup victories, and Glenn says having a long-term vision is the way forward.

“We’re going to do it in a way that’s sustainable,” he said.

“We know that worked for the Germans and we know that worked for the Spanish, so we’re just repeating things they’ve done with our own emphasis on it.”

Spain were crowned 2010 World Cup and 2012 European champions during manager Vicente del Bosque’s eight-year spell as manager, while Germany boss Joachim Low has been in the job 11 years during which time he has led them to 2014 World Cup victory and runner-up spot at the 2008 Euros.

2018 World Cup Fixtures, Including Dates, Kick-Off Times & Venues

The complete fixture list for the 2018 World Cup in Russia following Friday’s draw in Moscow (all times GMT):

Thursday, June 14

(1500) Russia v Saudi Arabia, Moscow (Luzhniki)

Friday, June 15

(1200) Egypt v Uruguay, Yekaterinburg

(1500) Morocco v Iran, Saint Petersburg

(1800) Portugal v Spain, Sochi

Saturday, June 16

(1000) France v Australia, Kazan

(1300) Argentina v Iceland, Moscow (Spartak)

(1600) Peru v Denmark, Saransk

(1900) Croatia v Nigeria, Kaliningrad

Sunday, June 17

(1200) Costa Rica v Serbia, Samara

(1500) Germany v Mexico, Moscow (Luzhniki)

(1800) Brazil v Switzerland, Rostov-on-Don

Monday, June 18

(1200) Sweden v South Korea, Nizhni Novgorod

(1500) Belgium v Panama, Sochi

(1800) Tunisia v England, Volgograd

Tuesday, June 19

(1200) Poland v Senegal, Moscow (Spartak)

(1500) Colombia v Japan, Saransk

(1800) Russia v Egypt, Saint Petersburg

Wednesday, June 20

(1200) Portugal v Morocco, Moscow (Luzhniki)

(1500) Uruguay v Saudi Arabia, Rostov-on-Don

(1800) Iran v Spain, Kazan

Thursday, June 21

(1200) France v Peru, Yekaterinburg

(1500) Denmark v Australia, Samara

(1800) Argentina v Croatia, Nizhni Novgorod

Friday, June 22

(1200) Brazil v Costa Rica, Saint Petersburg

(1500) Nigeria v Iceland, Volgograd

(1800) Serbia v Switzerland, Kaliningrad

Saturday, June 23

(1200) Belgium v Tunisia, Moscow (Spartak)

(1500) Germany v Sweden, Sochi

(1800) South Korea v Mexico, Rostov-on-Don

Sunday, June 24

(1200) England v Panama, Nizhni Novgorod

(1500) Japan v Senegal, Yekaterinburg

(1800) Poland v Colombia, Kazan

Monday, June 25

(1400) Saudi Arabia v Egypt, Volgograd

(1400) Uruguay v Russia, Samara

(1800) Spain v Morocco, Kaliningrad

(1800) Iran v Portugal, Saransk

Tuesday, June 26

(1400) Denmark v France, Moscow (Luzhniki)

(1400) Australia v Peru, Sochi

(1800) Nigeria v Argentina, Saint Petersburg

(1800) Iceland v Croatia, Rostov-on-Don

Wednesday, June 27

(1400) South Korea v Germany, Kazan

(1400) Mexico v Sweden, Yekaterinburg

(1800) Serbia v Brazil, Moscow (Spartak)

(1800) Switzerland v Costa Rica, Nizhni Novgorod

Thursday, June 28

(1400) Japan v Poland, Volgograd

(1400) Senegal v Colombia, Samara

(1800) England v Belgium, Kaliningrad

(1800) Panama v Tunisia, Saransk

Saturday, June 30

Round of 16

(1400) Group C winners v Group D runners-up, Kazan (R1)

(1800) Group A winners v Group B runners-up, Sochi (R2)

Sunday, July 1

Round of 16

(1400) Group B winners v Group A runners-up, Moscow (Luzhniki) (R5)

(1800) Group D winners v Group C runners-up, Nizhni Novgorod (R6)

Monday, July 2

Round of 16

(1400) Group E winners v Group F runners-up, Samara (R3)

(1800) Group G winners v Group H runners-up, Rostov-on-Don (R4)

Tuesday, July 3

Round of 16

(1400) Group F winners v Group E runners-up, Saint Petersburg (R7)

(1800) Group H winners v Group G runners-up, Moscow (Spartak) (R8)

Friday, July 6

Quarter-finals

(1400) Winner of R1 v Winner of R2, Nizhni Novgorod (Q1)

(1800) Winner of R3 v Winner of R4, Kazan (Q2)

Saturday, July 7

Quarter-finals

(1400) Winner of R7 v Winner of R8, Samara (Q3)

(1800) Winner of R5 v Winner of R6, Sochi (Q4)

Tuesday, July 10

Semi-final

(1800) Winners of Q1 v Winners of Q2, Saint Petersburg

Wednesday, July 11

Semi-final

(1800) Winners of Q3 v Winners of Q4, Moscow (Luzhniki)

Saturday, July 14

(1400) Third-place play-off, Saint Petersburg

Sunday, July 15

(1500) Final, Moscow (Luzhniki)