Salah, Kane nominated for Player of the Year

Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, Leroy Sane and David Silva lead a six-strong cast that also includes the prolific Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane for the 2017-18 Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year award.
Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea is the other nominee.

Despite blowing the chance to seal the Premier League title in a thrilling 3-2 derby defeat to Manchester United last weekend, City still boast a 13-point lead at the top of the table heading into Saturday’s match against Tottenham.

De Bruyne is expected to be City’s leading candidate having contributed a league-high 15 assists and seven goals from midfield as Pep Guardiola’s have marched towards the title.

However, the Belgian may be beaten to the award by Salah’s free-scoring form.

The Egyptian has scored 39 times in all competitions, including in each leg as Liverpool dumped City out of the Champions League quarter-finals 5-1 on aggregate.

Salah leads the way in the race for the Premier League golden boot with 29 goals to Kane’s 25.

Sane and Kane are also on the shortlist for the Young Player of the Year award alongside City goalkeeper Ederson and forward Raheem Sterling, Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford and left-back Ryan Sessegnon, who has starred in Fulham’s push for promotion from the Championship.

Giroud Double Keeps Chelsea In Champions League Hunt

Chelsea’s kept their slim hopes of playing Champions League football next season alive as Olivier Giroud came off the bench to inspire an eight-minute turnaround from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Southampton on Saturday.

Defeat is another body blow to Saints’ chances of avoiding relegation as they remain rooted in the bottom three when for so long they seemed set for a first home win in the Premier League since November.

Dusan Tadic and debutant Jan Bednarek put the hosts in command, but Giroud’s first league goals for Chelsea either side of Eden Hazard’s equaliser cut the gap on Liverpool and Tottenham in the fight for a top-four finish to seven points.

The two sides will meet again in the FA Cup semi-finals next weekend, and Southampton will do well to raise themselves for cup glory with their place in the Premier League next season looking ever more precarious.

It was a former Chelsea player who got Saints off to a perfect start as Ryan Bertrand burst past Cesar Azpilicueta down Southampton’s left before squaring for Tadic to apply a simple finish.

Only a fine save low to his right from Thibaut Courtois denied Saints a second through James Ward-Prowse as Chelsea struggled to create anything of note before the break.

And their frustration overspilled as tempers flared when Marcos Alonso was lucky to escape unpunished for raking his studs down Shane Long’s calf.

Long nearly doubled Southampton’s lead early in the second period when he turned Andres Christensen and Gary Cahill before his mishit effort almost looped over Courtois, who scrambled to turn the ball behind.

Courtois was left exposed by his defence moments later when Ward-Prowse’s free-kick found Bednarek completely unmarked at the back post to half-volley expertly across the goal and into the far corner.

Conte swiftly responded by hauling off the disappointing Alvaro Morata and Davide Zappacosta for Pedro Rodriguez and Giroud.

The French international striker has largely struggled to make an impact since his deadline day move from Arsenal in January.

 

But Giroud showed what he is capable of with a brave near post header from Alonso’s pinpoint cross to get Chelsea back in the game with his first league goal for the club and spark an incredible fightback 20 minutes from time.

Five minutes later Hazard levelled by smashing home Willian’s cross from close range.

And with Southampton reeling, Giroud completed Chelsea’s comeback when he pounced on a loose ball inside the area to drive into the bottom corner.

Chelsea still needed Courtois to secure just a fourth league win in 12 games in 2018 as the ‘keeper got down well to deny Josh Sims as the game entered stoppage time.

AFP

Salah, Kane & De Bruyne Among Nominees For PFA Players’ Player Of The Year

The Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) have revealed their nominees for the Players’ Player of the Year award, with Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne chief among them.

Liverpool forward Salah and Manchester City midfielder De Bruyne have been shortlisted alongside two of the latter’s team-mates, Leroy Sane and David Silva, Tottenham striker Harry Kane and Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea.

De Bruyne has played a vital role in City’s relentless charge towards the Premier League title, making 15 assists and scoring seven times.

The Belgium international’s all-round performances have drawn rave reviews throughout the campaign and he was considered the hot favourite for the PFA award for several months.

However, Salah has emerged as a real challenger to the Belgian after maintaining his outstanding form in the Premier League.

Having arrived from Roma last year, the former Chelsea winger has transitioned seamlessly, scoring 29 times in 31 league appearances.

That haul leaves him just two shy of the Premier League record for goals in a single 38-game season, with Liverpool still having five games to play.

Amusan Brings Gold Medal Home

After several fruitless efforts by Nigerian athletes in the track and field events at the on-going 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, female sprint hurdler, Oluwatobiloba Amusan produced a gold medal for the country yesterday.

Her superlative performance in the women’s 100m hurdles saw Nigeria catapulted to the 8th position on the overall medals table with eight gold, five silver and five bronze medals. Amusan ran 12.68 seconds to beat two Jamaican athletes, Danielle Williams (12.78 secs) and Yanique Thompson (12.97 secs) to the second and third place respectively.

Earlier yesterday, Nigeria grabbed three gold medals, with two coming from wrestling events. Odunayo Adekuoroye retained her Commonwealth crown, even as Blessing Oborududu won her first-ever gold medal in the Games history.

In a keenly contested finale, World silver-medalist, Adekuoroye battled to gold in the 57kg weight class with a 7-5 points win over favourite Pooja Dhanda of India, who beat her in Season 3 of the Indian Pro Wrestling League earlier this year.

With the win, the 24-year-old thus claimed back-to-back gold medals at the Games, following her success in Glasgow, four years ago.Eight-time African champion, Oborududu, came from behind to defeat Canada’s Danielle Lappage 4-3 and claim the gold medal at in the 68kg weight category.

In the men’s event, Amas Daniel failed in his attempt to land a first Commonwealth Games gold, as India’s Bajrang stopped him. The 6-time African champion settled for a bronze medal, beating Canada’s Vincent de Marinis 4-4 (by criteria) in the 65kg weight class.

In the men’s 97kg class, Soso Tamarau narrowly missed out of the bronze medal, losing 2-1 to Alexios Kaouslidis of Cyprus.Team Nigeria picked a fourth gold medal yesterday in the Para-sport athletics men’s T47 100m category, where Suwaibidu Galadima finished first in 11.04 seconds ahead of England’s James Arnott (11.30 secs) and Tevanghn Thomas (11.63 secs).

UCL: Madrid Draw Bayern In Semis, Liverpool To Face Roma

Holders Real Madrid will face Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of this season’s UEFA Champions League.

The other semi-final tie will see Liverpool do battle with surprise team AS Roma who stunned Barcelona in the quarter-final.

The draw was confirmed in Nyon, Switzerland on Friday.

Five-time winners of the Champions League Bayern will welcome Madrid to the Alianz Arena for the first leg before travelling to Spain for the return leg at the Santiago Bernabeu a week later.

Liverpool, who have also won Europe’s elite club competition five times, will be at home to Roma at Anfield for the first leg.

At last season’s quarter-final tie, Madrid eliminated Bayern 6-3 on aggregate to progress into the last four.

The first legs will be played on 24 and 25 April, and the second legs will be played on 1 and 2 May.

Europa League Semis: Arsenal Draw Atletico, Marseille To Battle Salzburg

Arsenal have been drawn against Spanish side Atletico Madrid while French Ligue 1 outfit Olympique Marseille will face Red Bull Salzburg of Austria in the semi-finals of the 2017/2018 UEFA Europa League.

The draw was held on Friday in Nyon, Switzerland.

Arsenal will welcome Atletico to the Emirates Stadium for the first leg while Salzburg will be guests to Marseille.

The first legs will be played on 26 April, and the second legs will be played on 3 May 2018.

Atletico are former winners of the Europa League with triumphs in 2010 and 2012.

The last time Arsenal made it to the final of the Europa League was in 2000 (formerly known as the UEFA Cup).

They lost 4-1 on penalties to Turkish giants Galatasaray after 120 minutes ended 0-0.

The winner of this season’s Europa League will qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League.

Maradona To Messi: Focus On Winning World Cup

Legendary Argentine midfielder, Diego Maradona, has urged Lionel Messi to put behind him Barcelona’s UEFA Champions League exit and prepare well with the Albiceleste as they target their third title at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Barcelona were sent out of the Champions League on superior away goals by a Italian side, AS Roma after the Blaugrana threw away a 4-1 first leg lead losing 3-0 in the second leg to crash out 4-4 on aggregate onTuesday night.

Maradona told daniarcucci.com that the exit of Barcelona could be a blessing in disguise for the Argentina captain who he thinks will be well rested for the World Cup in Russia to win it.

“Messi, today, he can go and lift the World Cup in Russia, the only thing I would tell him is to prepare himself, as I did with Professor Del Monte, before Mexico, to prepare himself for the World Cup in Russia,” Maradona told daniarcucci.com.

“Because Barcelona is lost, it is more than done, they have no problem. ,The La Liga and the Copa Del Rey will be theirs at the end of the season.

 

“As I told Napoli: ‘I love you a lot, I gave you a lot, but now my priority is the national team.”

“And so you can go and lift the Cup in Russia. It is essential that he (Messi) prepare himself mentally and physically for his last chance.”

Maradona also advised Jorge Sampaoli, to pick Manchester United’s goalkeeper Sergio Romero as his first choice for the World Cup ahead of River Plates’ Franco Armani.

​”Armani is a good goalkeeper, Chiquito Romero is a great goalkeeper,” he said.​

Wenger: CSKA Made My Heart Beat Quicker

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted that his team lacked urgency as they were made to fight hard to book their spot in the last four of the Europa League against CSKA Moscow on Thursday night.

The Gunners who were boasting of a 4-1 lead from the first leg fell two goals behind on the night courtesy of goals by Fedor Chalov and Kirill Nababkin.

Danny Welbeck halted the CSKA comeback with a well-taken goal on 75 minutes, Arsenal’s first shot on target on the night.

Aaron Ramsey then scored in stoppage time to seal a 2-2 draw, sending Arsenal through 6-3 on aggregate.

“You could see when you have a big difference after the first game it is difficult to turn up with the same urgency than if the difference is very small and that played a part in the first half,” the Frenchman said after the game.

 

“I felt in the two games, they (CSKA) played well, especially tonight they made my heart beat much quicker than I expected it to be.

“We played against a good team. I knew that after the first game and they showed that again tonight, they gave us many problems.”

Wenger would not be drawn on his preferred semi-final opponent, with Atletico Madrid, Marseille, and Red Bull Salzburg lurking in Friday’s draw.

“Looking at all the results as a whole picture in Europe this week, you would say that teams have become closer and the games are very open and everything is possible in every single game,” he added.

“Everybody speaks about Atletico Madrid that they look the strongest team on paper but you must say when you look at the results that Salzburg have done again.

“I am from France and Marseille are in there as well and that is always a difficult place to go, maybe it is better that I don’t wish for anybody.”

Gold Coast 2018: Odunuga Loses In Women’s Lightweight Boxing Semis, Claims Bronze

Yetunde Odunuga of Nigeria lost to Paige Murney of England in the semi-final of the women’s lightweight class in the boxing event of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games on Friday.

Murney was awarded the fight via points decision, winning it 4-1.

The English boxer dominated the first round 10-9, 10-9, 10-9, 10-9, 10-9.

Odunuga gave a good fight in the second round but Paige edged it 10-9, 10-9, 9-10, 10-9, 9-10.

And in the third and final round, Odunuga came out tops with a score of 9-10, 9-10, 9-10, 10-9, 10-9.

Despite her defeat to Paige, Odunuga has now won a bronze medal for Team Nigeria.

Later on Friday, another Nigerian women boxer Milicent Agboegbulem will hope to pick a final ticket when she squares up against Caitlin Parker of Australia in the middleweight category.

Gold Coast 2018: Quadri Beats India’s Desai To Reach Table Tennis Singles Semis

Aruna Quadri booked a place in the men’s singles semi-finals in the table tennis event after defeating Harmeet Desai of India in four straight sets in the quarter-final 1 on Friday.

Quadri recorded an 11-9,11-8,11-9,11-8 win over the Desai.

He will face Sharat Achanta from India in the semi-finals 1 on Saturday for a place in the finals.

In the women’s TT6-10 singles, Faith Obazuaye has qualified for the final of the event, defeating Felicity Pickford from England in three straight sets.

Obazuaye won 6-11,7-11, 8-11.

She will face Melissa Tapper in the Gold medal match on Saturday.

Tapper defeated her compatriot, Andrea McDonnell 3-1 (6-11,11-3,11-4,11-1) in the other women’s TT6-10 singles semi-final 1 match.

Noble Actor, Osun Govt To Hold Maiden Sports Festival

By Solomon Odeniyi

An Osun-based group, Noble Actor Global Resources Limited says it will be collaborating with the Department of Sport and Ministry of Social Protection, Sports and Special Need in Osun to organise the first ever Sports Festival in the state.

The festival, a 15-day event is billed to hold between 5th and 19th of October, 2018.

According to the convener, Taofik Lawal, the Osun Sport Festival would be chaired by former Super Eagles coach and FIFA instructor, Chief Adegboyega Onigbinde, noting that the festival would engage the entire local government areas of the state in the over 15 sports including the traditional sports.

He noted that the event was necessitated by their understanding of sports as an inestimable tool of unity and a veritable means by which to engage young people with elaborate sporting talents.

Lawal added that over the past years, sporting event of this dimension has proven to be more than necessary as new talents who are not yet discovered in the agrarian settlement in the state would be unveiled.

He however, stated that the absence of private sector participation in sports in the state has served as a clog in the wheel in reviving active sports in the state, urging private organisations to invest heavily in sports as they stand to gain a lot helping to build a formidable sporting tradition in the state.

He said: “There is a lot the private stand to benefit apart from the moral task of social/corporate responsibility. The development of the European League is a clear example of what both community and private sector stand to benefit. The idealistic fulfillment that comes with helping to expose raw talents to the cheering eyes of millions of viewers worldwide and innumerable talent scout also comes with the benefit of endearing the product of the partnering corporate bodies into the hearts of millions of viewers in the world.’’

The Commissioner of Social Protection, Sports and Special Need, Mr Biyi Odunlade, who was represented by Gbenga Olanrewaju, appreciated the group for partnering in sport development in the state, saying more of this event would help engage the youths, which would help sustain the peace witnessed in the state as well as stimulate unity among the populace in the state.

He added that events of this nature would provide an opportunity to scout for new talents waiting to be discovered, assuring the group the best among the athletes discovered will be trained and prepared for the national sports festival in November and believed they would make the state proud just like Mujidat and her counterpart in Commonwealth games.