Kenneth Omeruo dismisses move from Chelsea

                                                                         Omeruo Keneth

 

Super Eagles World Cup defender Kenneth Omeruo has dismissed rumours he will quit Chelsea to join Belgian club KAA Gent.

 “At the moment, I have not decided where I will be playing next season as I still need to speak to Chelsea, so any news right now about an agreement with any club is not true

 My agents are in talks with several clubs in the event my future lies away from Stamford Bridge.” He said.

Omeruo, who has yet to make a Premier League debut with Chelsea in his six years on the books of the London club, has expressed his desire to settle his future on a more permanent basis following several loan spells.

His impressive performances in Russia only helped to increase interests from several clubs in Europe.

 “The truth is I am looking to settle down permanently after several loan moves, but no agreement has been reached with any club at the moment,” he added.

AFCON: Amuneke urges Rohr to use creative players

Emmanuel Amuneke

 

FifaTechnical Study Group member, Emmanuel Amuneke, has urged Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr to inject more creative midfielders in the team ahead of their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Seychelles.

The Eagles failed to make it out of the group stages of the World Cup for the third time in six appearances at the FIFA World Cup and Amuneke who is in the five-man FIFA Technical Study group revealed that the team missed out due to little details.

Nigeria lost 2-0 to Croatia in their opening game but bounced back to beat Iceland to boost their chances of qualifying for the next round, that was truncated by their 2-1 loss to Argentina.

“It was a good try. We were close, yet still far off.

We have seen some lapses and must correct them and inject fresh ideas to compete well against other teams that set up their team to nullify our threats

 There were lots of positives from the tournament on the part of the Super Eagles which they must build on just like the creative aspect and the attack.” Amuneke said.

France vs Belgium: Giroud targets goal against Courtois

 

Olivier Giroud has backed France to find a way past Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in Tuesday’s World Cup semifinal in St Petersburg.

Chelsea striker Giroud, 31, has yet to score in Russia but wants to end that run against Chelsea teammate Courtois.

“Thibaut is difficult to beat and he has been very good at this World Cup,.

He has a strong defence in front of him, but I am sure we will be able to break through that wall.

I have scored a few goals against Thibaut in training at Chelsea, and I intend to do the same again on Tuesday. “he said.

Giroud praised Belgium skipper Eden Hazard, another Chelsea colleague, and France’s Kylian Mbappe as two of the best players he has worked with.

“Eden and Kylian are both geniuses,” he said.

Kylian is more serious  he makes calls from deeper, so is more attacking than Eden.

“That said, I have a special relationship with Eden at Chelsea  we need each other on the pitch. Eden is one of the three top players that I have played alongside during my career, but Kylian might be in that band too.

Giroud predicted a tight game against Belgium, saying he felt it would be a 50-50 match.

They have a great team, but we do too, We have a big rivalry with Belgium it is a derby, so this game will have an English feel to it. It is a special match.

They are third in the FIFA rankings and they possess a very good generation of players. It will be even harder than the last few matches.

Mbappe told TF1 that France were really proud of their achievements so far We know our own qualities. We need to get back to work to do the right things in the semifinal and allow ourselves to dream.” He added.

Meanwhile, defender Benjamin Pavard rejected the idea that France would be favourites.

“Belgium are gaining momentum  they have great players, but we are sure of our qualities, and we have an exceptional squad that is very together,.

It is going to be a very complicated match. However, we are scared of nobody. Our squad is exceptional.

We know that Belgium are a top team. We have played against (Lionel) Messi and (Luis) Suarez, though, so we are afraid of nobody we will work to keep them out too.

People keep talking us up as favourites, but there are still four top teams left. Give it time we will see after the Belgium match.” he said

French coach Didier Deschamps, also speaking to TF1, warned: “Belgium have great potential in attack, they possess a generation of great quality. The Belgians are at the best European clubs, and they deserve their semifinal berth.”

Kickboxing should be included in sports festival – Nigerian coach

A kickboxing coach, Adenuga Adeniji-Adele, has expressed optimism that the sport will feature in the 19th National Sports Festival (NSF) scheduled for December in Abuja.

Adeniji-Adele said that the Kickboxing Federation of Nigeria had requested for inclusion in NSF from the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports.

“We started serious training when the date of the festival was confirmed by the ministry but we realised that kickboxing was not shortlisted for the festival.

“The federation has done the needful; we are optimistic the Minister, Solomon Dalung, will consider us and absorb kickboxing as part of events for the festival,’’ he said.

The coach said that athletes had been responding to schedules at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, in preparation for the festival.

Adeniji-Adele said that inclusion of the sport in the festival would improve its standards and enable discovery of more talents for international competitions.

According to him, kickboxing should be encouraged as it has gone a long way to meaningfully engage youths.

“The sport has gained awareness in and outside the country, and many athletes have embraced it.

“The NSF is a major competition through which they can showcase their talents,’’ he added.

The coach said that none participation of the athletes in the 2012 NSF tagged `EKO 2012’ slowed the pace of their development and that of the sport.

The National Sports Festival is aimed at discovering talents that can be groomed for international championships.

FIFA picks officials for next phase of Russia 2018

                                                Pierluigi Collina

FIFA’s Referees Committee on Wednesday selected 17 referees, 37 assistant referees and 10 Video Assistant Referees (VARs) for the final phase of its 2018 World Cup, holding in Russia.

Pierluigi Collina, the Committee’s head, told reporters in Moscow that this was because the number of referees at the 32-day competition has to be reduced at this point in time.

“The number of referees has been reduced in view of the number of matches left and the teams that have qualified for the next round.

“We have only eight matches left and only eight teams left also.

“These are in the quarter-finals (four matches), the semi-finals (two matches), third-place or losers’ final (one match) and final (one match).

“Only eight matches are involved in this number of matches also.

“So, there is, therefore, a need for a reduction in the number,’’ the former Italian referee said.

The 17 referees picked for the next phase include Alireza Faghani (Iran) and Nawaf Shukralla (Bahrain) from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

Others are Malang Diedhiou (Senegal) and Janny Sikazwe (Zambia) from the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

From the Confederation of Central American and Caribbean Football (CONCACAF) are Mark Geiger (U.S.), Jair Marrufo (U.S.) and Cesar Arturo Ramos (Mexico).

Also retained for the competition are Andres Cunha (Uruguay), Nestor Pitana (Argentina) and Sandro Ricci (Brazil) from the Confederation of South American Football (CONMEBOL).

From the Oceanic Football Confederation (OFC) is Matthew Conger (New Zealand).

The rest are from the European Football Association (UEFA), namely Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey), Bjorn Kuipers (The Netherlands), Antonio Mateu (Spain), Milorad Mazic (Serbia), Gianluca Rocchi (Italy) and Damir Skomina (Slovenia).

Ten VARs were also picked to continue on in the competition.

The 36 referees and 63 assistant referees were selected in March for the competition, with 13 VARs.

They were picked from the 53 groups of three referees placed under FIFA’s radar for the competition since September 2014.

 

FIFA rebukes Maradona over ‘robbery’ comment

FIFA has strongly rebuked Argentina great Diego Maradona’s comments that England’s win over Colombia was a robbery and that referee Mark Geiger was not up to the task.

“Following comments made by Diego Armando Maradona…FIFA strongly rebukes the criticism of the performance of the match officials which it considers to have been positive in a tough and highly emotional match,” said the global soccer body in a statement.

FIFA said it was “doing everything within its power to ensure principles of fair play, integrity and respect are at the forefront of this World Cup and how the organisation is now run.”

In that context, FIFA said it was “extremely sorry to read such declarations from a player who has written the history of our game.”

England won the round of 16 match on penalties following 120 minutes marred by squabbling, protests to the referee, play-acting and feigning injury.

FIFA said it was “extremely sorry to read such declarations from a player who has written the history of our game.”

Maradona said England’s win was a “monumental robbery” and that Geiger “shouldn’t be given a match of this magnitude.”

He added: “Geiger, an American, what a coincidence.”

 

It’s not true – Real Madrid denies Mbappe mega bid

                                  Kylian Mbappe

European champions Real Madrid have denied reports of a world-record 272 million Euros (316 million dollars) deal with Paris Saint-Germain to sign forward Kylian Mbappe.

Mbappe has been one of the standout performers for France at the ongoing 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

He joined PSG in 2017, on an initial loan deal that will become permanent this summer in a transfer that will see him become the second most expensive player in history.

However, Madrid has been closely linked with the 19-year-old attacker.

It has been claimed in France that he is on his way to the Spanish capital this summer to replace Cristiano Ronaldo, who is reportedly set to join Juventus after his shock revelation that he wants to leave.

The Spanish club, however, insisted that no such deal was in place, describing the reports as false.

“Given the information published in the last few hours referring to an alleged agreement between Real Madrid and PSG for player Kylian Mbappe, Real Madrid says they are flatly false,” a statement on the club’s website read.

“Real Madrid has not made any offers to PSG or the player and regrets the dissemination of this type of information that is not contrasted with the parties.”

Madrid has been closely monitoring Mbappe since his days at Monaco and the principality club’s vice-president had said they made an offer worth 180 million Euros only to be knocked back as he opted to return to Boyhood Club PSG.

Mbappe scored 21 times in 44 games for the French club in his first season and had played a key role for the national team at the World Cup, having netted three times in four games.

The statement comes just a day after the Champions League holders made an announcement to clarify that talk of another world record deal with PSG had been struck.

This was after it was reported that they were set to sign Neymar this summer for 310 million Euros (360 million dollars).

Just like Mbappe, the Brazilian is continually being linked to the Santiago Bernabeu outfit since arriving at the Parc des Princes team.

Doubra Otuku vows to retain national draught title

 

Nigeria’s draught champion, Doubra Otuku, says he will do everything  to retain his title and win the coveted N1 million prize money in the second edition of the international draught competition beginning in Benin on Friday.

Draught is played by two people each with 12 round pieces  on a board of  64 squares.

Otuku, waded off  stiff  Ghanaian  opposition to emerge champion at the maiden edition  in 2017.

“I am here to retain my title,” he said.

“The tournament will become more competitive with the entrance of players from Cameroon, but I am not ready to just give up my title.

“I have heard that some of the Cameroonian players are very good; I have also worked on my weaknesses and I will do everything possible to win the coveted N1 million prize money,’’ he said.

Top seeded players from Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon had  arrived Benin ahead of the three-nation  competition.

Competitors are expected to play in two categories- premier and first division– while winners are expected to cart away cash prizes, including the first prize of N1million.

The maiden edition, which held in Benin, featured players from Nigeria and Ghana as 43 players battled for the N500,000 star prize.

Osagie Ize-Iyamu, the Chairman of the  Organising Committee, said the tournament was put in place  to erase the erroneous belief  that the game  was  for “ lazy or  jobless people   in the society.’’

“Rather, this is one of the most intelligent, strategic and physically engaging sports in the world,” he said.

Mika Amonokhai, the Commissioner for Sports and Special Duties in Edo, at the maiden edition had expressed optimism  that the game  could become a national sport.

“That is why as a government, we are ready to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to see to the registration and promotion of this sport to the highest level.

“I am also assuring the organisers of this tournament that Edo State Ministry of Sports  under my watch  is ready to partner the organisers  to make the best use of the event,” he had said.