Ighalo Makes Chinese Super League Team Of The Week

Super Eagles’ and Changchun Yatai striker, Odion Jude Ighalo was included in the Chinese Super League Team of the Week for match day 7 after his stellar performance for Yatai in their 5-2 thumping of Guizhou Hengfeng.

The former Watford striker, who equaled the record for the most goals scored in a single CSL match as he netted four goals over the weekend, joins the likes of former EPL stars Graziano Pelle and Oscar in the team of the week.

Ighalo had a perfect game rating of 10.0, scoring four from his four shots in the game. He also completed 63% of his passes, winning 1 penalty and four duels.

Ighalo now has 5 league goals after 7 games, 4 behind Lei Wu who has 9 goals from the same number of matches.

Nigeria U17s To Hand Call-Up To The New Victor Moses For Qualifiers

Nigeria U17 head coach Manu Garba has drawn up a list of players he intends to invite for the Golden Eaglets get-together.

Having scoured the country in search of the most promising youngsters, two players certain to be named on the roster for the training camp are Timothy Peace and Tochukwu Nnadi and this is subject to approval of the Nigerian Federation who will vet the list before it is made public.

Timothy Peace is a player currently on the books of famous academy, Kwara Football Academy, which produced the likes of Gbenga Arokoyo, Ahmed Abdul-Taofik and Monday Samuel Ayinoko.

The young winger has drawn comparisons to Chelsea star Victor Moses, he is a pacy player not scared to take risks and scores regularly.

Nnadi is a big, strong attacking midfielder, he scores as much as he provides assists and has been tipped to be an absolute hit if he fulfills his potential.

The Golden Eaglets will face off with Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ivory Coast, Benin and Togo in Zone 3 (West B Zone) of the 2019 African U17 Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Mido On Salah: I Never Thought I’ll See An Egyptian Win The PFA Award

Ahmed Hossam Mido congratulated Mohamed Salah on winning the PFA award, and admitted he never thought any Egyptian could win the prestigious trophy.

The Egypt international won the award on Sunday night after beating off competition from Manchester City trio David Silva, Kevin de Bruyne, and Leroy Sane as well as Tottenham striker Harry Kane and Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea.

Mohammed Salah Smiles

“Congratulations Salah, I never thought I’ll see an Egyptian win the PFA award,” Mido said in a televised interview.

“Salah is a proof that if you work hard, no matter where you are from or what religion you follow, you can reach your goals and you can beat anybody.

“This moment that Salah is experiencing is the fruit of a lot of effort, as he said this was his chance to prove that he was not treated right at Chelsea and he returned now to Liverpool with a developed character that conquered the Premier League.

“Since the start of the season, when they were still playing the Audi tournament, you could see how determined Salah was to show the world what he can do.

“Although he was highly criticised before the Premier League kicked-off by a lot of pundits for his spell at Chelsea and although he was not Jurgen Klopp’s first choice, he did all he can and he proved every doubter wrong,” he added.

The Liverpool star is five goals ahead of second-placed Harry Kane and is only three games away from becoming the first Arab player to win the Golden Boot of the English Premier League.

Victor Moses Reacts To Chelsea’s FA Cup Win Vs Southampton

Nigeria Player of the Year Victor Moses was delighted that Chelsea are through to their second successive Emirates FA Cup final following their 2-0 win over Southampton at the National Stadium in London on Sunday.

Olivier Giroud opened the scoring shortly after the restart before Alvaro Morata made sure of the win with a goal eight minutes from time.

Moses has been impressive of late for The Blues and put in a full shift against the Saints in his second appearance in this season’s Emirates FA Cup.

Writing on Twitter, the right wing-back stated : ”Tough game today but through to the final! Come on! Our fans were the 12th man today amazing support at Wembley #CFC”.

Last season, the Nigeria international was sent off in the FA Cup showpiece at Wembley after he was shown a yellow card for diving and will be looking to end this season on a high note by winning the Cup.

Moses can only join the Super Eagles training camp ahead of the World Cup after May 19.

Golden Eaglets Coach Manu Garba Scouts ‘Big’ Ghana U17 Players, Neglected By NFF

Nigeria U17 coach Manu Garba has returned to the country after a scouting trip to Ghana, where he traveled to monitor two-time world champions Black Starlets.

Since February 2018, Garba and his lieutenants have been pleading with the Nigeria Football Federation for the Golden Eaglets to start preparations for the 2019 Africa U-17 Cup of Nations Zone 3 (West B Zone) qualifiers without success.

And after the head coach’s trip to Ghana, he has admitted that the Golden Eaglets face a tall order in their bid to qualify for the Africa U-17 Cup of Nations in Tanzania, noting that the Ghanaian players are very physical and big for their age-group.

The players Garba is planning to invite for the training camp are small, legitimate schoolboys, so they will find it difficult to compete with Ghana, Burkina Faso, Niger, Ivory Coast, Benin and Togo except they are properly trained for a long time before the regional qualifiers.

Whilst Ghana have started building a team for the qualifiers and even some of their outstanding players have traveled to Europe to undergo trials with clubs interested in their services, there is no fixed date for the start of the Golden Eaglets get-together.

The most successful nation in the history of the Fifa U17 World Cup did not qualify for the last edition of the tournament after losing 3-2 to Niger in the second round of the African qualifiers.

Salah Scores his 31st Premier League Goal

Mohamed Salah scored his 31st Premier League goal, equalling the record for the most goals in a 38-game season in the history of the competition, but a late strike from Salomon Rondon helped bottom-of-the-table West Bromwich Albion come from behind to draw 2-2 against Liverpool on Saturday at The Hawthorns.

Salah, who has scored in his last six games in all competitions, scored Liverpool’s second goal in the 72nd minute with a left-footed chip over goalkeeper Ben Foster after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain put him through.

The favourite to be named the PFA Player of the Year on Sunday, Salah equalled the record held by Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez and Alan Shearer — and he has three games remaining in which he can break it.

Danny Ings opened the scoring in the first minute with his first Premier League goal in more than two years. Sadio Mane, from a corner, fired a low cross into the centre of the box to Georginio Wijnaldum, and although the midfielder couldn’t control it, Ings pounced and slotted it left-footed past Foster.

Ings, who missed much of the past two seasons with injuries to both of his knees, made only his first start under manager Jurgen Klopp in the Merseyside derby two weeks ago. His last goal came in a 1-1 draw at Everton on Oct. 4, 2015.

He even nearly scored a second after Salah took the ball into the area in the 42nd minute and a tackle diverted the ball to Ings, with Foster saving low from close range.

West Brom pulled one back in the 79th minute behind Jake Livermore, who scored his first goal for the club since a move from Hull City in January 2017. Chris Brunt fired a corner into the mixer, and although Loris Karius turned aside Craig Dawson’s volley, Livermore finished on the second attempt.

And the club, who knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup in the fourth round in January, equalised in the 88th minute after Rondon scored from a diving header directly from a free kick by Brunt.

Liverpool made five changes, as Roberto Firmino, Dejan Lovren, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson all started on the bench with Klopp eyeing the first leg of the Champions League semifinal against Roma on Tuesday.

Firmino replaced Ings and Oxlade-Chamberlain came on for Mane in the 66th minute, and Loven was subbed on for Salah in the 84th.

And West Brom, unbeaten since caretaker manager Darren Moore was appointed to replace Alan Pardew on April 2, made no changes following the shock defeat of Manchester United at Old Trafford a week ago that handed Manchester City the title.

Liverpool have not fallen to their opponents in the league since Feb. 11, 2013.

Romelu Lukaku Expresses Believe in Man U in Next Season

Romelu Lukaku believes the current Manchester United squad can win next season’s Premier League, blaming a lack of consistency rather than quality for their inability to challenge Manchester City this season.

Jose Mourinho’s men are on course to finish second in the Premier League after last season’s sixth-place finish — their highest position since Alex Ferguson bowed out as a champion in 2013.

But there is a huge gap between United and swashbuckling Premier League champions City, who sealed the title with five games to spare thanks to United’s shock home loss to beleaguered West Brom last week.

Lukaku believes the West Brom defeat is the kind of result that has cost his team but is confident the club has the strength in depth to win the title next season, even without the inevitable summer investment.

“I’m really confident in my team-mates,” he said. “I think we can do it with the team we have now but we should have showed more consistency throughout the season.

“For us now it is up to us to be more consistent and the manager needs to see if he has to add more players but with the players we have now, I think we have enough.”

United have proven their mettle by winning important games against other top sides in recent weeks, including coming from behind against Tottenham on Saturday to reach the FA Cup final.

But Lukaku, signed from Everton last year, is ultimately eyeing the Premier League title.

“Winning the FA Cup would be nice but I don’t want to talk about it. I just want to end the season well, hopefully take second and that will prepare us really well for the final.”

AFP

Wenger ‘Was Sacked’, Arsenal Great Wright Says

Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright has insisted Arsene Wenger must have been sacked as he cannot believe his old boss would have walked away from his post.

Wenger announced Friday his intention to step down as Arsenal manager at the end of the season after more than 21 years in charge of the north London club.

Arsenal haven’t won the Premier League title since 2004 and now face a second successive season where they will finish outside the top four.

They’ll also likely need to win the Europa League — Wenger’s men are in the semi-finals — to qualify for Europe’s elite Champions League tournament.

Wenger had faced repeated calls to quit from frustrated Gunners’ fans in recent seasons but the 68-year-old Frenchman had remained steadfast in wanting to carry on.

Wright, who helped Arsenal win the Premier League title in the early years of Wenger’s reign, was adamant he must have been forced by the club’s hierarchy.

“Arsene Wenger is a man of principle, honesty and integrity — that is why I am convinced he has been sacked and not resigned,” Wright told Saturday’s edition of The Sun tabloid.

“For all the vitriol and abuse thrown at him, Arsene has never been a man to walk out before the end of a contract,” he added.

– ‘Doesn’t add up’ –

“It is a sad situation that it’s come to this and I don’t suppose we will ever find out who is responsible, because they will hide behind each other.

“One day he is doing a press conference with no hint of this, the next he’s gone. It doesn’t add up.

“But Arsene can go with his head high. That’s why, whatever the results, it is imperative he gets the send-off a true Arsenal and football legend deserves. We all owe him so much.”

Meanwhile, Wright’s former team-mate Martin Keown, who won three titles under Wenger, said leaving Arsenal would feel like a “bereavement” for the manager.

“My overwhelming emotion is one of sadness,” Keown told the Daily Mail.

“Beyond his family, Arsenal and football are Arsene Wenger’s two greatest loves. To give up one of them will feel like a bereavement.

“That is what it felt like to me when my time with the club ended. I spent 18 years of my career there and, even now, I still have not really got over leaving. To leave Arsenal Football Club hurts to the very core.

“For many of Wenger’s former players – myself included – it will feel like a part of them is gone from the club forever following his departure.”

AFP

Nadal Beats Dimitrov To Cruise Into 12th Monte Carlo Final

World number one Rafael Nadal swept aside Grigor Dimitrov to ease into his 12th Monte Carlo Masters final with a 6-4, 6-1 victory on Saturday.

The 31-year-old, who needs to win an 11th Monaco title to retain the number one ranking ahead of Roger Federer, will face either Kei Nishikori or Alexander Zverev in Sunday’s final.

“Every year is different and equally special,” said Nadal, after beating Dimitrov for the 11th time in 12 meetings.

“So I’ll just focus on doing the things that I have to do to give me another chance tomorrow. That’s it.

“I don’t want to think about another title yet, I just want to think about the way I have to play and try to be ready for it.”

Nadal came through a tight first set but always looked too strong for Dimitrov and raced through the second in half an hour.

The top seed is bidding for an outright record 31st Masters title this week and extended his run of consecutive sets won on clay to 34.

Nadal, playing his first ATP tournament since he retired from his Australian Open quarter-final against Marin Cilic in January with a hip injury, has shown no signs of rust.

Following a 6-0, 6-2 last-eight demolition of Dominic Thiem, Nadal has lost only 16 games in four matches this week.

Dimitrov immediately put Nadal’s serve under pressure with two perfectly-judged lobs forcing deuce, but the top seed came through an eight-minute opener.

Nadal didn’t take long to get into his stride, breaking at the first time of asking as Dimitrov struggled in the longer rallies.

The Bulgarian continued to go for his shots and brought up three break-back points in game five as Nadal followed a double fault with two wayward groundstrokes.

Nadal fired long, before Dimitrov saved a break point himself with a venomous forehand to level at 3-3.

The fourth seed was displaying the resolve needed to push Nadal on his favourite surface, and came back from break point down again as the Spaniard continued to miss chances.

But Dimitrov wasted all of his earlier good work, handing Nadal two set points with back-to-back double faults and a wild forehand.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion wrapped up the set with a whipped forehand onto the line.

That effectively ended Dimitrov’s chances, and Nadal broke to love in the second game of the second set.

Nadal stormed towards the finishing line with eight straight points on his opponent’s serve and a wide Dimitrov backhand wrapped up yet another comfortable victory.

AFP

West Brom Fightback Steals Spotlight From Salah

Mohamed Salah bagged a record-equalling goal for Liverpool, but a dramatic late equaliser from Salomon Rondon earned West Bromwich Albion a 2-2 draw on Saturday.

Rondon rose impressively in the 89th minute, arriving to nod in Chris Brunt’s free-kick and complete Albion’s recovery from a two-goal deficit at the Hawthorns.

But bottom of the table West Brom still look set for relegation from the Premier League as they are eight points from safety with only three games left.

Liverpool remain third, three points behind second-placed Manchester United.

Jurgen Klopp’s side had seemed firmly in control as Salah equalled Ian Rush’s Liverpool record of scoring in 32 different games in a single season and collected his 31st league goal of the campaign, his 41st overall.

Egypt winger Salah tied the Premier League record of most goals in a 38-game campaign, joining Alan Shearer (1995-96), Cristiano Ronaldo (2007-08) and Luis Suarez (2013-14).

He also equalled Suarez’s Liverpool record for most goals in a Premier League season.

Earlier, it was Danny Ings, a player whose Liverpool career has been blighted by injuries since moving from Burnley, who was the centre of attention with his first goal in 930 days.

Ings was preferred to Roberto Firmino, one of five key personnel rested by Klopp with an eye on Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg with Roma, and the former England international wasted little time in justifying his manager’s faith.

Sadio Mane worked a short corner with James Milner, crossing into the six-yard area where Georginio Wijnaldum had space to control the ball into the path of Ings who drove home convincingly.

It was Ings’ first goal since scoring against Everton in October 2015, shortly after his move to Anfield, and his celebrations indicated the obvious relief felt by a player who has badly injured the cruciate ligaments in both knees in the intervening years.

Arsene Wenger to Step Down at the End of the Season

Arsene Wenger, Arsenal’s manager will finally bring his 22-year to a close at the end of the season.

“After careful consideration and following discussions with the club, I feel it is the right time for me to step down at the end of the season,” Wenger said in a statement posted on the club’s website.

“I am grateful for having had the privilege to serve the club for so many memorable years.”

Wenger, 68, won three Premier League titles, leading the only side to go a full league season unbeaten in 2003-04, and lifted seven FA Cups during his tenure.

However, he has been under increasing pressure to step down from the club’s fans for several seasons as Arsenal haven’t won the Premier League for 14 years and risk missing out on Champions League qualification for the second consecutive season.

Arsenal’s only realistic chance of making the Champions League next season is by winning the Europa League where the Gunners face Spanish giants Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals on April 27 and May 4.

“I urge our fans to stand behind the team to finish on a high,” added Wenger.

“To all the Arsenal lovers take care of the values of the club. My love and support for ever.”

Arsenal’s majority shareholder Stan Kroenke paid tribute to a man of “unparallelled class”.

“Everyone who loves Arsenal and everyone who loves football owes him a debt of gratitude,” said Kroenke, who took a controlling stake in the club in 2011.

“One of the main reasons we got involved with Arsenal was because of what Arsene has brought to the club on and off the pitch. His longevity and consistency over such a sustained period at the highest level of the game will never be matched.”

Arsenal added that a successor to Wenger will be found “as soon as possible”.

Growing frustration
Wenger took charge with Arsenal in the doldrums in October 1996, but quickly set about a revolution in English football by overhauling players’ diets and bringing an end to the drinking culture that had dogged Arsenal in previous years.

Results soon arrived on the pitch as Wenger’s men beat an all-conquering Manchester United side to the title in 1997/98 and won the league again four years later.

His greatest achievement came in 2003/04 with “The Invincibles” side that not only gained plaudits for winning, but the free-flowing, attacking style with which they played.

Despite qualifying for the Champions League for 20 years in a row, though, Wenger was never able to end Arsenal’s quest to win the competition for a first time. The closest they came was in 2006 when a young side was edged out 2-1 in the final by Barcelona.

That season was also Arsenal’s final campaign at Highbury, but the promise that moving to the 60,000 capacity Emirates Stadium would allow the club to compete financially with the biggest spenders in England and the continent failed to materialise.

Instead, Wenger was much-criticised for his unwillingness to spend the money needed to keep up as booming TV revenues saw Premier League rivals splash the cash in an arms race to win titles.

Arsenal even sold a host of star players like Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie during the early years of their title drought.

And the fans’ frustration continued to grow as even after loosening the purse strings to buy Mesut Ozil in 2013 and Alexis Sanchez a year later, Arsenal still failed to compete for the title or the Champions League.

Wenger’s 20-year run of qualifying for the Champions League ended last season, and Arsenal currently sit sixth in the Premier League, 14 points adrift of north London rivals Tottenham in fourth.