EPL: United, Chelsea lose ground in title race

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A rampant Manchester City moved to the top of the Premier League after Chelsea and Manchester United lost to West Brom and Norwich respectively on Saturday, as QPR were left stranded at the bottom of the table by the same margin after they lost an early season relegation battle against Southampton and Reading came from behind to defeat Everton.

After Arsenal scored five to beat Tottenham in the day’s early match, Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero then scored twice apiece as Man City repeated that feat with a 5-0 win over Aston Villa, while Luis Suarez was again instrumental as Liverpool battered Wigan and Michu and Jonathan De Guzman notched as Swansea consigned Newcastle to another defeat.

Chelsea fell four points behind the league leaders in the title race after they were beaten 2-1 by West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns.

Baggies manager Steve Clarke had spoken before the match of his side’s desire to take a major scalp at home after coming so close against Manchester City earlier in the season, and that hunger and self-confidence was evident as WBA took an early lead. They needed a bit of help from the visitors, however – Shane Long taking advantage of some slack marking from David Luiz to power a header past Petr Cech from close range.

The Blues managed to get back on level terms just before half-time – as Eden Hazard profited from a deflection off Billy Jones to see his shot deceive the previously well-positioned Boaz Myhill – but the decisive goal in the second half would go to the home side, as Peter Odemwingie got his head on a Long cross to delight the home crowd.

With 40 minutes to go in the game at that point Chelsea still had plenty of time to find an equaliser, but were denied at every turn as Juan Mata, Hazard and Daniel Sturridge could find no way through in a tense final phase of the contest.

Then, in the day’s evening match, Manchester United missed the chance to return to the top of the table after they were beaten 1-0 by Norwich City.

At a raucous Carrow Road, Anthony Pilkington’s perfectly placed second half header was too good for United, who were unable to find an equaliser in the closing stages as Jonny Howson missed a glorious chance to kill matters off.

At the bottom of the table, Mark Hughes could face a sleepless night as he sweats about his job, after watching his QPR side beaten 3-1 at home by a Southampton side in similar relegation trouble.

With both sides coming into the game 20th and 19th in the table, speculation had run high before kick-off that the losing manager could be sacked. But Southampton were clearly up for the game from the off – and took the lead early on as Rickie Lambert put his head in where it would hurt to nod home after Jason Puncheon’s shot was cleared off the line.

Puncheon – who had been the star of the show in the first half – himself then scored on the stroke of half-time to give Nigel Adkins a bit of breathing room, but only four minutes of the second half had passed before Junior Hoilett – rising highest in the penalty box to reach the header – gave Hughes’ side a glimmer of hope.

But an Anton Ferdinand own goal with seven minutes remaining extinguished any remaining hopes the Loftus Road crowd had of escaping with something from the game, leaving club owner Tony Fernandes to reflect on how adamant he really is about keeping Hughes at the helm.

QPR’s plight looks all the worse after Reading overcame an early deficit to pick up their first league win of the season with a 2-1 triumph against Everton at the Madejski Stadium.

Steven Naismith had put the Toffees ahead after ten minutes to give the hosts cause for concern, but – despite another influential performance from Marouane Fellaini – the Royals were not fazed. It took them until the second half to fight back but fight back they did, Adam Le Fondre equalising by heading home from a Nicky Shorey cross after 50 minutes, before converting from the penalty spot after being brought down by Seamus Coleman to give Brian McDermott a much-needed and keenly-celebrated victory.

At the Etihad Stadium, holders Manchester City had the referee to thank for giving them a relatively easy afternoon in a 5-0 victory over Aston Villa.

City owed a certain debt to Joe Hart for keeping them on level terms in the early part of the contest as Villa started the brighter. But they were ahead at half-time thanks to David Silva’s opportune effort – the Spaniard cleaning up after Vincent Kompany and Carlos Tevez had both made a hash of a glorious opening.

In the second half the points were sealed, thanks to two dubious penalties. Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez converted one apiece – as Villa complained bitterly about referee Jon Moss’s two decisions.

Both those goals came around the hour mark, and then Aguero scored from open play just minutes later to leave Villa simply trying to save some face. That they barely managed – Tevez completing the rout for Roberto Mancini’s side with 15 minutes still to play.

In the day’s early kick-off, Arsenal fell behind early against Tottenham to a goal from former Gunner Emmanuel Adebayor, but he was dismissed for a wild tackle on Santi Cazorla and 10-man Spurs were soon overwhelmed in a 5-2 defeat.

Mertesacker team celeb Arsenal v Tottenham
PA PhotosPer Mertesacker is mobbed after his equaliser for Arsenal

A header from Per Mertesacker drew Arsenal level, before two goals in quick succession from Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud put Arsenal ahead. Cazorla slotted home from close range on the hour to put Arsenal in complete control.

Gareth Bale got his name on the scoresheet 20 minutes from time but the comeback was snuffed out by a late goal from Theo Walcott.

Brendan Rodgers enjoyed bragging rights over Roberto Martinez as his Liverpool side demolished Wigan 3-0 at Anfield – with Luis Suarez once again proving instrumental.

Martinez was strongly linked with the Reds’ manager’s job before Rodgers eventually took the reins in the summer, but was unable to mastermind an away victory thanks to three second half goals.

It was Suarez, so instrumental to his side all season, who again provided the cutting edge – breaking the deadlock just after half-time by taking the ball from Raheem Sterling and rifling in a low shot from ten yards, before doubling the advantage soon after with a conversion from a similar spot after running onto Jose Enrique’s through-ball.

Enrique then got on the scoresheet himself – Suarez providing a sweet interchange with Sterling before the newly-capped England player saw his shot parried away by goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi. It would only fall to the Spaniard, however, who crashed the ball home to give Rodgers a comfortable triumph.

Finally, at St James’ Park a mistake from Tim Krul changed the course of the contest as Swansea picked up a valuable 2-1 away victory against Newcastle.

With the hosts, shorn of Papiss Cisse due to an ongoing dispute with the Senegalese Football Association, unable to carve out many gilt-edged goalscoring chances the visitors were virtually handed the lead in the second half, after Krul wildly sliced a backpass into the path of Pablo Hernandez, who crossed for Michu to turn home.

Jonathan De Guzman then made it 2-0 with a handful of minutes left, again taking advantage of a questionably Krul parry to find the net after Danny Graham’s shot was only half-denied. Demba Ba would then net in injury time, but it was not enough to spark a full comeback.

source:soccernet.com

National Sports Festival: 39 years after

eko 2012
The National Sports Festival began 1973 with the sole aim of promoting unity amongst the ethnic groups in the country after the Civil War as well as to discover hidden talents that can be harnessed and groomed for the future. Thirty nine years down the road, the aims and objectives of the founders have been truncated.

These days, the National Sports Festival has been bastardized. States now poach athletes, cheat and use ineligible athletes. Because of the win-at-all-cost syndrome, the junior and intermediate cadres have long been discarded. State coaches no longer want to discover hidden talents and young and talented athletes are no longer given the chance to excel, as ready-made athletes are often times brought back to compete from Europe and America.

The last time juniors and intermediates took part in the National Sports Festival was at the 1985 edition tagged Kwara ’85 in Ilorin. The uproar that followed the disqualification of members of the Golden Eaglets from participating in the festival after they won the FI FA Kodak Under-16 Tournament in China put an end to the junior and intermediate cadres of the national sports festival.

Going down memory lane, after the Nigerian Civil War in 1970, the unity of the country was seriously threatened, then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, came up with the idea of a National Sports Festival that will help bring the needed unity among the people.

That was how in 1973, the very first National Sports Festival was born and stagged at the National Stadium, Surulere, in Lagos. For the first in about seven years, athletes from the nooks and crannies of the country came together to felicitate and compete under a peaceful atmosphere.

Bendel State under their then sports loving Military Governor, Brigadier Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia, won the inaugural edition, beating the host Lagos to emerge overall winner. The Sports Festival made a great impact on national integration. The unity long dreamed about by General Gowon, started manifesting. Athletes discovered during the festival formed the bedrock of the country’s national teams and majority of them represented the country in the third All Africa Games in Algeria in 1978.

The festival legacy continued in Kaduna ’77, Oluyole ’79, Bendel ’81 and kwara ’85 as many talented

young men and women were discovered and sponsored to the United States where they grew into world beaters. Some of those athletes did not only represent this country in the All Africa Games, they went further to paint the Commonwealth Games, Olympic Games, and World Championships scarlet with their scintillating performances.

Some of the athletes that came through the Sports Festival in athletics were Peter Okodogbe, Charlton Ehizuelen, Esther Ogbuji, Gloria Ojukwu, Janet Omorogbe, Bunor Uwabor, Helen Okwara, Felix Imadiyi, Hamid Adio, Rotimi Peters, Late Dele Udo, A.J Jampido, Henry Amike, Yusufu Ali, the late Oluyemi Kayode, Ezinwa brothers, Innocent Egbunike, Chidi Imoh, Mary Onyali, Falilat Ogunkoya, Faith Idehen, Beatrice Utondu, Patience Itanyi, Tina Iheagwam, among others.

Others were Emmanuel Igbinosa, Gabriel Gold, Patrick Okena, Sule Mohammed, Palmer Okundaye,

Bashiru Mohammed, Alfred Ilekhuoba, Osaze Owen and Friday Noruwa in cycling. Babatunde Obisanya, Atanda Musa, Sunday Eboh, Kuburat Owolabi, Funke Oshonaike, Segun Toriola, etc in table tennis. In boxing, we had Jerry Okorodudu, Peter Koyengwachi, Monday Omoruyi, Christopher Ossai, Sabo Mohammed, etc. We can go on and on.

These people brought us honours across the globe but today the story is different as the Sports Festival is now for the highest bidder. There is no more competition and States no longer believe in raising athletes. Coaches, administrators and state governors believe in ready made athletes, they will rather poach, cheat and bring back ready made athletes based abroad to compete in the games, than waste their time on long term venture of discovering and training of athletes.

They connive with some officials of the National Sports Commission (NSC) to use ineligible athletes at festivals instead of going to the interiors of the country were budding talents can be discovered fresh from the villages . This trend started in the early 90s after the juniors and intermediates were barred. That decision has today ruined the country’s reserves and Nigeria now re-cycles athletes over and over again.

States like Delta, Edo, Kano, Borno, Ogun, Rivers, to mention but a few are guilty of this. Again, the hosting-to-win syndrome is causing most states to want to host and in an attempt to win they introduce all manner of cheating, which includes poaching of athletes from states that can not pay high salaries. They forge certificates, falsify ages, smuggle athletes names into their employment list and pay vouchers to beat the festival rules of 12 months state of residence for them.

To sustain the aim of setting up the National Sports Festival 39 years ago, we must go back to the basics and pay less attention to winning at all cost. The NSC should bring back the junior and intermediate categories in the festival and stop the madness of hosting to win. States must be monitored to stop them from poaching and they should be mandated to showcase at least 10 new athletes discovered during the last two years at every Sports Festival.

As the 18th edition comes up in a matter of nine days, all hands must be on deck to check all manners offrivolities. I trust Lagos to be a good host as they are not apostles of win-at-all cost. They areamong the few states that have never poached. They believe in developing athletes from the grass-roots. Sports Festival should be a breeding ground for new talents and not an avenue for States to show of their wealth.

To build a virile sporting Nigeria, we have to go back to those good old days where States play a greater part in the discovery and development of athletes. In the late 70s and 80s, States used to have their own Sports Festivals. First all the local government areas compete and the talents discovered there represent their local government in the State Sports Festival final. It is from the State finals that those to represent the State at the National Sports Festival are selected.

This system, worked because so many hidden talents were discovered and they later represented the country. Today, the reverse is the case. It is because we abandoned this great system, that Nigeria sports suffers internationally. Without this noble system, 100 retreats will not take us nowhere. Except the right pegs are put in the right holes, Nigeria sports will continue to fall by the way side. We are blessed with talents waiting to be tapped.

Finally, States should not see the Festival as the only time the sports council should have activities. They should seek sponsorship for competitions. Sports is a veritable tool to achieve international recognition. State governors should use their positions to attract sponsorships for the different sporting associations in their states. This, will in a long way, help to eradicate poaching and cheating which has crippled Nigeria sports.

source:vanguard

‘Why UNILAG won tertiary games’

Team UNILAG captain, Akano Olanrewaju, says hardwork and determination was the secret behind the University of Lagos’ success at the just concluded 2012 Lagos Inter Tertiary Games.

The university emerged winners of the competition with nine gold, two silver and four bronze medals.

The competition is facilitated annually by the Office of the Senior Special Assistant on Grassroots Sports Development to the Lagos State Governor, headed by Wale Oladunjoye.

“We prepared hard for this competition and I thank God that we reaped the fruits of hard work and determination with the support of the school’s management,” Olanrewaju said.

Last year’s winners, Lagos State Polytechnic ended in 3rd position with one gold, seven silver and five bronze, behind second-placed Yaba College of Technology. Yabatech amassed six gold, seven silver and four bronze medals.

This year’s event ended with the football event at the sports complex of Yabatech. LASPOTEC won the football gold of the tournament after defeating UNILAG3-0 on penalties after full and extra time ended 1-1. Yabatech defeated Lagos State University 3-1 to cart home the bronze.

LASPOTECH received N1.2m, UNILAG got N850, 000 while Yabatech went home with N450, 000.

Lagos State Sports Commissioner, Wahid Oshodi, commended the students for their spirit of sportsmanship, adding that the state government was looking at ways to increase the number of sports in future editions of the competition.

Culled from Punch

‘TB Joshua said I’ll score against Venezuela’

Lazio midfielder Ogenyi Onazi has revealed to MTNFootball.com that Prophet T.B. Joshua foretold his goal against Venezuela.

The youngster scored the Eagles third goal in the 3-1 victory over Venezuela on Thursday after receiving a pass from Newcastle United striker Shola Ameobi.

“My goal was made in heaven because Prophet T.B.Joshua told me I will score. He even gave me some tips on how to have a good game,” he told MTNFootball.com.

“I therefore dedicate the goal to God almighty and also to Prophet T.B. Joshua, who inspired me to score the goal.

“This goal will boost my confidence in other games as I believe more goals are coming by his grace.”

Onazi again restated his belief to make the squad to next year’s Nations Cup in South Africa.

“I’m happy at the manner the coach has been giving me opportunities and I can assure Nigerians that I will be part of the team that will bring the Nations Cup to the country next year,” he declared.

Portland Timbers forward Bright Dike, who debuted for Nigeria on Thursday against Venezuela, has equally expressed his happiness to represent Nigeria.

“I was very excited to wear the green Jersey of Nigeria, I feel honoured and I had great pride in representing my country,” he told MTNFootball.com.

“The team played for each other and we got a deserved the victory. I did my best and really wanted to make it a scoring debut and I came so close. That just gives me more motivation for the next time we play.”

Culled from Punch

Africa U17 Qualifier: Eaglets to Beat Mali for Imoke

Liyel-ImokeThe Golden Eaglets have pledged to win their last 2013 African Under-17 qualifying home match which kicks off at 2:00pm against Mali on Sunday as a parting gift to the government and people of Cross River State.

Senator Liyel Imoke is unarguably the team’s most important fan and the players have unanimously agreed that any goal against Mali would first and foremost be dedicated to the amiable Executive Governor of Cross River State.

Eaglets’ star midfielder, Alhassan Ibrahim said it’s important that the team wins Sunday’s match in a ‘goal-rious’ fashion to reciprocate the good gestures by Cross- Riverians-particularly Governor Imoke.

“We can’t thank Governor Imoke enough,” said the player, who is widely regarded as the new Nwankwo Kanu for his guiles and wiles on the ball which is similar to the erstwhile Super Eagles’ captain.

“Right from day one, the Governor told us that Calabar is our home and we have enjoyed our stay in Calabar especially by winning our matches.

“By the grace of God, we are going to beat Mali on Sunday and we are going to dedicate the goals and victory to the Governor,” added Ibrahim, who is the team’s joint-top scorer on three goals with Isaac Success in the qualifiers so far.

Similar opinions were shared by defending duo of Vice-captain Wilfred Ndidi and baby-faced Izu Omego who have stood like the rock of the Gibraltar at the heart of the Golden Eaglets defence:

“Sunday’s match against Mali is an opportunity to thank the people of Cross River State and we are determined more than ever to win this important match.

“This is our last home match here and we want to win in a grand style before the second leg in Bamako. We want to thank everybody in the state especially the Governor, the Commissioner for Sports, Hon. Patrick Ugbe and several others that has helped us in one way or the other since we started camping here,” noted Wilfred.

Added Omego: “Also we want to thank our mummy, the wife of the Governor (Her Excellency, Mrs. Obioma Liyel-Imoke) who came to watch our last two home matches when we beat Niger 6-0 and Guinea 3-0 and we are going to ensure total victory again against Mali on Sunday.”

Meanwhile, the top echelon of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) led by President Aminu Maigari is already in Calabar to offer maximum support to the team.

“The NFF is happy with you and we want to let you know that we are fully behind you against Mali,” Dr. Emmanuel Ikpeme, the Director Technical told the players.

“Fortunately, the first leg of the match is at your home and it would be nice if you can spell Mali and if need be, you can spell Bamako which would be very nice before the second leg in two weeks time.

culled from Thisday

EPL: Osaze Helps Baggies Sink Blues

Chelsea went a fourth league game without a win as they were beaten by the top flight’s surprise package West Brom at The Hawthorns, while there were big wins for Manchester City and Liverpool.

At The Hawthorns, the Baggies went in front through striker Shane Long’s stooping header, reports the BBC.

Eden Hazard nodded Chelsea level but West Brom regained the lead when Osaze Odemwingie headed in Long’s cross.

Chelsea were denied a spot-kick for Claudio Yacob’s shove on Victor Moses and Daniel Sturridge failed to take two late chances as the Baggies held on.

Sturridge raced through on goal only to have his shot saved by Baggies keeper Boaz Myhill before he had an angled shot across goal go wide.

The almost incessant second-half pressure from the visitors failed to salvage them something from the game, while the victory moved the bouncing Baggies – managed by ex-Chelsea player and assistant manager Steve Clarke – up to fourth place and just a point behind Chelsea.

It was West Brom’s sixth home league win in seven games this season.

West Brom also inflicted defeat on Chelsea at The Hawthorns last season, a loss that resulted in Andre Villas-Boas being sacked as Blues boss and Roberto Di Matteo filling the breach.

Di Matteo went on to taste Champions League and FA Cup glory so he might have had a degree of satisfaction in returning to the club who dismissed him as manager in February 2010.

In other games, Manchester City showed no mercy to Aston Villa with a 5-0 thumping exactly a week after city rivals, United came from two down to beat the ‘Villans’ 3-2, Liverpool beat Wigan 3-0, Reading came from a goal down to beat Everton 2-1, while Swansea stunned Newcastle at home 2-1 and QPR remained rooted to the foot of the table after losing 3-1 to Southampton.

Earlier, Arsenal made the best use of their one man advantage to beat city rivals, Spurs 5-2.

EPL RESULTS

Arsenal 5 – 2 Tottenham
Liverpool 3 – 0 Wigan
Man City 5 – 0 Aston Villa
Newcastle 1 – 2 Swansea
QPR 1 – 3 Southampton
Reading 2 – 1 Everton
West Brom 2 – 1 Chelsea

culled from Thisday

EPL: Osaze Helps Baggies Sink Blues

oszeChelsea went a fourth league game without a win as they were beaten by the top flight’s surprise package West Brom at The Hawthorns, while there were big wins for Manchester City and Liverpool.

At The Hawthorns, the Baggies went in front through striker Shane Long’s stooping header, reports the BBC.

Eden Hazard nodded Chelsea level but West Brom regained the lead when Osaze Odemwingie headed in Long’s cross.

Chelsea were denied a spot-kick for Claudio Yacob’s shove on Victor Moses and Daniel Sturridge failed to take two late chances as the Baggies held on.

Sturridge raced through on goal only to have his shot saved by Baggies keeper Boaz Myhill before he had an angled shot across goal go wide.

The almost incessant second-half pressure from the visitors failed to salvage them something from the game, while the victory moved the bouncing Baggies – managed by ex-Chelsea player and assistant manager Steve Clarke – up to fourth place and just a point behind Chelsea.

It was West Brom’s sixth home league win in seven games this season.

West Brom also inflicted defeat on Chelsea at The Hawthorns last season, a loss that resulted in Andre Villas-Boas being sacked as Blues boss and Roberto Di Matteo filling the breach.

Di Matteo went on to taste Champions League and FA Cup glory so he might have had a degree of satisfaction in returning to the club who dismissed him as manager in February 2010.

In other games, Manchester City showed no mercy to Aston Villa with a 5-0 thumping exactly a week after city rivals, United came from two down to beat the ‘Villans’ 3-2, Liverpool beat Wigan 3-0, Reading came from a goal down to beat Everton 2-1, while Swansea stunned Newcastle at home 2-1 and QPR remained rooted to the foot of the table after losing 3-1 to Southampton.

Earlier, Arsenal made the best use of their one man advantage to beat city rivals, Spurs 5-2.

EPL RESULTS

Arsenal 5 – 2 Tottenham
Liverpool 3 – 0 Wigan
Man City 5 – 0 Aston Villa
Newcastle 1 – 2 Swansea
QPR 1 – 3 Southampton
Reading 2 – 1 Everton
West Brom 2 – 1 Chelsea

Culled from ThisDay

Befitting Gift for Eagles New Boys

Super-Eagles miamiIt is an open secret that Nigerian football is now notorious for blowing hot and cool. Few days after the country’s female national team the Super Falcons put up its woeful performances at the just concluded Africa Women Championship in Equatorial Guinea to cause Nigerian football fans so much pain, the Super Eagles on Thursday morning restored the nation’s pride with a well deserved 3-1 victory over South American opponent, Venezuela.

Therefore, it is apt to say why the humiliating performance of the Falcons was the country’s lowest moment, the performance of the Eagles came in timely as a soothing balm. Eagles victory over Venezuela was not the first for the country but for some of the players who filed out for the Eagles, it was their first appearance for the country.

Apart from the win being a morale booster as the team gets set to begin preparations for the January 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, it was a befitting gift for the new Eagles. For players like England based Shola Amoebi and USA Major League player, Bright Dike, there wouldn’t have been anymore befitting welcome gift than the victory in Florida.

As it is normal with all international friendlies, it was an opportunity for the Super Eagles coach, Keshi to test more players as he tries to assemble a quality team for the Nations Cup next year. Expectedly, Amoebi who recently made up his mind to play for his fatherland after procrastinating for many years, was handed a chance to make his debut for the Eagles and he grabbed it with gratitude.

While he nursed the ambition of playing for England at the senior level, he played hide and seek with Nigerian football authorities. This time, the story was different as he honoured Keshi’s invitation and provided an assist for Eagles’s third goal.

At the end of the match Amoebi received words of commendation from Keshi who could not hide his feeling. “Shola was awesome the moment he got into the pitch. He showed his experience in the game and even when he was provoked his calmness was amazing. He was talking to the other players on what to do at a time we were under pressure and he was resilient, we sure need his experience for big tournaments. Look at the way and manner he shielded the ball, evaded being brought down before passing to Mba, who also gave it to Onazi for our third goal, Shola is a special player”.

Apart from Amoebi, the victory was also a befitting gift for Chinedu Bright Dike who plays for Portland Timbers in the Major League Soccer in the USA. He was drafted into the team when some of the foreign based pros like Mikel Obi and Victor Moses pulled out of the friendly. He started in the match and came close to scoring on his debut but was denied by the goalkeeper. He also got kind words from Keshi who said “He’s quick, aggressive and always coming back to defend and it was difficult for anyone to say this was the first time he was playing for Nigeria. I’m so happy that Bright did not disappoint and we will see when camp opens what he can do for the team”.

Apart from the duo of Amoebi and Dike who are based abroad, Sunshine Stars Solomon Kwambe and Umar Zango of Kano Pillars had their debut for the Eagles and the victory was a welcome gift for them. Although it was a long wait for Zango who came close few occasions in the past, Kwambe did not wait that long.

Of the two NPL stars, Kwambe had more playing time against Venezuela and was able to justify his inclusion in the team. He crowned his spectacular showing on his debut with the assist which produced Nigeria’s opening goal. Pundits are of the opinion that if the Benue State born right-full back sustains the tempo when camp resumes in December, he would be on his way to South Africa for the Nations Cup.

Even though he was not playing for Nigeria for the first time, Lazio wonder kid, Ogenyi Onazi got enough playing time to show what he is capable of doing. To show his appreciation for such an opportunity, the former Golden Eaglets star scored Eagles third goal when assisted in the dying minutes of the match by another ‘new boy’, Newcastle’s Shola Amoebi.

Although he had his debut against Liberia last month in Calabar, Onazi came on in the closing minutes of the match and so it was a bit tight to assess him based on the few minutes he spent on the field. But on Thursday in Florida, he had enough time to make a bold statement.

Although the victory will certainly lift team spirit, football pundits say it calls for more sober reflection than celebration. Many analysts were not particularly satisfied with the defence line anchored by Azubuike Egwuekwe and Godfrey Obobana.

The Sunshine captain, Obobana literally struggled throughout the match and was guilty of gifting the opponents the ball in the vital area. His slip provided Venezuela’s consolatory goal. As usual, Egwuekwe showed why he is always a huge suspect in the defence by continually losing his man.

Despite the lapses in the defence line, coach Keshi who confirmed that the Eagles defence was shaky, gave the team a clean bill of health as he said apart from towering Egwuekwe, all the players gave a good account of themselves. Speaking on Egwuekwe, he said “We just asked him to hold on and he did very well, otherwise every other person in the defence line was very good”.

The Promised Land may not be anywhere in sight but Eagles recent performances have inspired some measure of confidence in even the team’s unrepentant critics. However, it is at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations that the team’s tenacity and real worth would be tested. The Nations Cup is usually the stage on which the best of African football is played.

culled from allAfrica

North London Derby: Arsenal put 10-man Spurs to the sword

North-London-derby_banner-300x98Arsenal defeated fierce rivals, Tottenham Hotspurs 5-1, just like they did last year. Although it wasn’t exactly the same routine all over, this North London derby, did not lack drama.

The visitors were ahead in the 10th minute, after Arsenal failed to deal with Defoe’s rebound and Adebayor clipped the ball past Szczesny. Seven minutes later, the Togolese striker turned the game around, after he wassent off for a wild tackle on Santi Cazorla.

From then on, the Gunners went on rampage. Walcott crossed for Mertesacker to power in the equaliser and Podolski put the home team ahead, after his shot bounced off Gallas. Olivier Giroud made the scoreline more emphatic before half-time, after he thumped in Cazorla’s cross.

Cazorla, who was at his sparkling best, then grabbed the fourth goal for his team, tucking away Podolski’s cross. Bale pulled one back, after Arsenal’s defence allowed him a free run, but his former Southampton team mate, Walcott, scored a fifth, as Arsenal got back to winning ways.

Culled from Dailypost

‘I really miss him’ – Cristiano Ronaldo admits he is still fond of Sir Alex Ferguson

RonaldoThe 27-year-old now plays under Jose Mourinho at the Santiago Bernabeu after making a world-record transfer from Old Trafford in 2009 for an estimated €100 million.

And despite winning La Liga last season for los Blancos and scoring 46 goals in 38 league games, the Portuguese player revealed he remains fond of his former tutor, three years after leaving Manchester.
“[Ferguson is] a fantastic person. A human person. He taught me many things,” Ronaldo told The Sun.

“Like I said before, he’s like a father in football. I really miss him and my relationship with him.”

The United boss will be 71 later this year, but Ronaldo believes the fiery Scot is as motivated as ever.
He added: “He is very tough. I think he cannot be like that because, how old is he – 70? It’s not good for his heart.

“He’s still tough, strong, I remember him the first time I saw him he was with the same power.”

Ferguson signed Ronaldo from Sporting Lisbon in 2003, and nurtured his prodigious talent to the point where the winger was awarded the Ballon d’Or after scoring 42 goals in all competitions in the 2007-08 season.

The 27-year-old won the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League during his time at Old Trafford, as well as the Fifa World Player of the Year award in 2009.

The forward has already scored 12 goals in 11 league appearances so far this season, but Madrid currently sit eight points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona as they look to retain their title

Culled from Goal.com

Live! Gunners Fired Tottenham 5 – 2 as Adebayoh Sees Red

arsenalA dramatic come back for Arsene Wenger’s boys as they are thrashing AVB’s tottenham 4 goals to 1 after a lead goal from Emmanuel Adebayoh in the 10th minutes of play.

The tune of the game changed when Adebayo was given a red car by Howard Webb for a very unfriendly challenge on Arsenal’s Theo walcot. Goals from Mertersacker, Giroud, Poboski and carzolar is currently compounding AVB woes as he losses another premiership match.

A goal from Gareth Bale in the 71st minutes has reduced the margin.

Can the Gunners sustain the Lead? or Could AVB boys do the magic and at least get a point form this match?

In the 90th minutes, Theo Walcot sealed Arsenal’s victory with a stunning goal. With this five star performance from the Gunners, Arsene Wenger can now sigh a sigh of relief as his side end their five match poor performance in the season.

By Dansu Peter