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Drogba retires from football

By Newsdesk

Former Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker, Didier Drogba, has ended his glittering football career.

The 40-year-old striker announced his retirement after his team, which he co-owned, Phoenix Rising, lost to Louisville City in the USL Cup final.

According to co-owner of Rising, Berke Bakay thanked Drogba for his contributions towards development of the game after the U.S. football second tier final game.

Drogba scored a goal in each of the club’s three play-off matches en route to their first ever USL Cup final.

“You have laid the foundation of something really special that we are all going to enjoy for many years to come,”  Bakay.

Before the final, Bakay told newsmen that Drogba would be moving into the boardroom after retires.

Earlier, Drogba said: “I joke with people that they need to give me the cup, so I can retire in peace. And that if I don’t get it, I’ll come back. But the truth is, this is my last season.”

It would be recalled that Drogba scored 157 goals in 341 appearances during his first spell at Chelsea from 2004 to 2012, winning three Premier League titles and the Champions League.

Following moves to Shanghai Shenhua in China and Turkish side Galatasaray, where he won the Super Lig and Turkish Cup, Drogba returned to the Blues for the 2014-15 season, scoring seven goals in 40 appearances and helping Jose Mourinho’s side to the title.

He then had 18 months with Montreal Impact before joining the Phoenix.

He scored 65 goals in 104 appearances for the Ivory Coast and was named African Footballer of the Year twice.

 

Renewed tributes goes on Yekini’s legendary years after death

By NewsDesk,

The World football governing body FIFA and Nigeria Football Federation (NFF)  have separately renewed tributes on legendary of late former Super Eagles striker, Rashidi Yekini, by paying post-humous respect to the Nigerian highest goal scorer of all time.

However, Yekini, who would have clocked 55 on Tuesday, was until his death Nigeria’s senior national football team highest goal scorer with 37 goals, a record yet unmatched.

Yekini scored Nigeria’s first-ever FIFA World Cup goal at the 1994 tournament in the U.S. and followed it up with a remarkable celebration.

And, FIFA, in a tweet via its official Twitter World Cup handle (@FIFAWorldCup), acknowledged that historic celebration, saying it would live on in World Cup folklore.

“Rashidi Yekini, scorer of @NGSuperEagles’ first goal at the #WorldCup, would have been 55 today. The celebration from Nigeria’s record goal-scorer will live on in World Cup folklore,” FIFA tweeted.

On its part, the NFF referred to the late Yekini as “Yeking of goals”, stating that power, pace and precision were the hallmarks of the late striker’s game.

“Posthumous birthday shout-out to our legend, ‘Yeking of goals’, late Rashidi Yekini. Power, pace and precision best describe Yekini on the pitch.

“The big man would have been 55 today. He remains the all-time top scorer of the @NGSuperEagles with 37 goals. Rest on legend!” the NFF tweeted, with two wine bottle emojis via @thenff.

The late Yekini was born in Kaduna on Oct. 23, 1963 and died in Ibadan, Oyo State on May 4, 2012.

A former African Footballer of the Year, Yekini’s professional career spanned over two decades.

He was the highest goal scorer at the 1994 African Cup of Nations in Tunisia, which Nigeria won.

The striker who played for clubs such as the then IICC Shooting Stars and defunct Abiola Babes FC went on to represent Nigeria at the 1994 and 1998 FIFA World Cups.

Madrid poor run puts Lopetegui under pressure

By Sports Desk,

Real Madrid failed to ease the pressure on coach Julen Lopetegui and instead set the record for the longest goal-drought in the club’s history during a surprise 2-1 defeat by Levante on Saturday.

Defeat means Madrid have now gone five games without a victory and by the time Marcelo gave them hope of a comeback at the Santiago Bernabeu, they had gone 481 minutes without a goal too.

The club’s previous worst run had been 464 minutes, in 1985.

For a team that prides itself on flair and flamboyance, it is a streak that reflects just as badly on Lopetegui as the results, which could leave Real Madrid four points adrift of Barcelona later on Saturday, with a ‘Clasico’ to come next weekend at the Camp Nou.

If Barca’s players were watching, they would have been licking their lips at the sight of Raphael Varane handing Levante a two-goal lead here after just 13 minutes. Jose Luis Morales and Roger Marti, from the penalty spot, were the beneficiaries.

At the final whistle, Lopetegui stood on the touchline, with his hands on his hips, staring ahead in disbelief.

He had left Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema on the bench, perhaps due to fitness issues, and the gamble backfired, despite both making a difference when brought on in the second half.

Madrid were two behind after 13 minutes and both came from Varane mistakes. The first was more blatant as he misjudged the flight of Sergio Postigo’s through ball and Morales was clear.

Thibaut Courtois rushed out but Morales nicked it round him and fired into the open net.

It got worse as Varane handled a bouncing ball on the edge of the area but as Madrid’s wall waited, Guillermo Cuadra refused to allow the free-kick to be taken.

The Video Assistant Referee said Varane’s handball was inside the box and Roger converted the penalty.

For the rest of the half, Madrid were scatty and imprecise, their finishing spoiled by bad luck but a lack of composure too.

VAR proved their undoing again, ruling Marco Asensio’s follow-up offside after Casemiro had headed against the crossbar. Mariano was also denied by the woodwork while Ramos and Lucas Vazquez missed from three yards.

At half-time, there were a scattering of white handkerchiefs — the traditional expression of discontent — but more whistles. After the restart, the home fans sang “echale huevos”, meaning, “play with some balls”.

Lopetegui had thrown Bale on for Alvaro Odriozola at the interval while Benzema and Dani Ceballos were introduced on the hour. Not before the 56th minute had passed, however, and Madrid’s drought became their longest ever.

Benzema shot straight at Oier Olazabal, who then pushed a bending Bale free-kick wide. Finally, Madrid scored, with that pair involved again as Bale flicked to Benzema at the back post. He picked out Marcelo to drive into the roof of the net.

Madrid believed again as Benzema struck the far post with a curling effort and Mariano thought he had grabbed an equaliser in the 87th minute. The striker, however, had strayed just offside. For Madrid, it was not to be.

Nigeria to participate in Volleyball World U-19 Boys Championship

By Sports Desk,

The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) on Friday approved the qualification of Nigeria’s U-19 boys national team to the World Championship in Tunisia in 2019.

The FIVB Vice-President, Dr Amr Elwani, confirmed the participation in a letter to the President, Nigeria Volleyball Federation, Musa Nimrod.

He felicitated with Nigeria over its qualification at the 2018 African Youth Games in Algiers, Algeria in July.

“On behalf of African volleyball family, we have great pleasure to inform you that the FIVB has approved the qualification of your U-19 boys national team to the FIVB 2019 U-19 Boys World Volleyball Championship.

“The competition comes up in Tunisia in 2019.

“This follows the team’s participation in the 2018 African Youth Games that held in Algiers, Algeria, from July 19 to July 23, 2018, and in which Nigeria emerged in position one.

“Kindly accept our sincere congratulations for the team’s qualification and well-wishes in their preparations to represent Africa in the 2019 World Championship,” Elwani said.

Nimrod said: “We promise to make Africa proud at the World Championship in Tunisia.

“The federation will support the players and ensure they are camped early to understand themselves better,’’ the NVBF chief said.

Nigeria will qualify for Nations Cup – Chukwu

By Sports Desk,

A former Super Eagles Coach, Christian Chukwu, on Wednesday expressed his optimism that the Eagles would qualify for the African Cup of Nations.

Chukwu, who was also Captain of the defunct Green Eagles was speaking in an interview  on Wednesday in Abuja.

According to him, the Eagles have shown impressive performance in the ongoing qualifying matches.

He said that Nigeria had proved their superiority in African football so far with victory over strong teams like Libya.

“We should try to beat South Africa. Although I am confident that we will win them.

“For South Africa to draw with Seychelles means that Nigeria can beat them,” said Chukwu.

The former coach, who also urged the team to maintain its tempo, said that it was time for the Eagles to work harder.

He said he was delighted with the performance of the Eagles over Libya at home and away.

On Oct. 16, the Eagles defeated Libya 3-2 in Tunisia in the second leg match.

Ighalo shoots Nigeria top of Group E

By Sports Desk,

A brace by Odion Ighalo and another goal by Ahmed Musa gave Nigeria’s Super Eagles a 3-2 victory over hosts Libya in Sfax, Tunisia, to move top of Group E of 2019 AFCON Qualifiers.

The Super Eagles led the game 2-0 in the first half, with Ighalo and Musa scoring three minutes apart. Libya’s Mohamed Zubya reduced the deficit in the 35th minute.

And in the second half Ahmad Benali levelled for Libya after the team piled a lot of pressure on the Nigerians.

But Ighalo in the 81st minute gave Eagles the full three points, to keep them ahead of South Africa in the group.

The Super Eagles now have nine points, overtaking South Africa who played a goalless draw away at Seychelles earlier today.

Libya are third in the group with four points and Seychelles have had just a point.

The teams in the group will next meet on 16 November, with Nigeria travelling to South Africa, while Seychelles will host Libya.

Then next year March, Nigeria will host Seychelles, while Libya will host South Africa for the final matches of the group.

Djokovic the new champion in Shanghai

By News Desk,

Novak Djokovic is the new champion of Shanghai Masters, beating 21 year-old Croatian Borna Coric in two straight sets 6-3 6-4.

By the victory, he has won a record fourth Rolex Shanghai Masters title and his 32nd Masters title overall.

The victory has also galloped him close to finish 2018 as the year-end No. 1 in the ATP Rankings.

He is now just 35 points behind 33-time Masters 1000 titles leader Rafael Nadal (7,480) in the year-to-date ATP Race To London with three weeks left in the regular ATP World Tour season, ATPWorldTour.com reported.

Djokovic, who has already booked his place alongside Nadal, Juan Martin, Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev at the prestigious Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in the English capital from 11-18 November, finished as the year-end No. 1 in 2011-12, 2014-15.

Djokovic did not drop his serve in Shanghai all week — 47 service games — and after another confident display in Sunday’s final he improved to a 27-1 match record since capturing the Wimbledon title on 15 July.

On Monday, he will return to the world’s Top 2 — replacing Federer at No. 2 — for the first time since 11 June 2017.

Djokovic had previously captured the Shanghai title in 2012 (d. Murray), 2013 (d. Del Potro), and 2015 (d. Tsonga).

He is now 20-6 at Masters 1000 tournaments this year — second only to Zverev (22-7) for most match wins — and also won Western & Southern Open silverware in August with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Federer to become the first player to capture all nine Masters 1000 titles since the tournament series was established in 1990.

Djokovic leaves China with 1,000 ATP Rankings points and $1,360,560 in prize money after he lifted his 72nd tour-level crown. He has a 45-10 record this season (23-4 on hard courts), which includes three other trophies at Wimbledon (d. Anderson), Cincinnati and the US Open (d. Federer).

Coric earned 600 points and $667,115 after contesting his fifth ATP World Tour final (2-3 record).

Second seed Djokovic was relentless in defence and quick to capitalise on the short ball, in a physical opening to the final that saw six shots as the average rally length through the first six games. The Serbian took a 4-2 lead after 25 minutes when Coric over-hit a forehand long of the baseline. Djokovic kept his opponent on the move, mixing up his service placement and making forays to the net in order to extend his advantage. He clinched the 38-minute first set with a hold to love, having lost four service points overall.

A forehand volley error from Coric gifted Djokovic the opening game of the second set, but the Croatian did well to save four break points in the third game that lasted 11 minutes. With victory in sight, Djokovic raised his return game to hold three championship points at 5-3, but Coric showed great character to work his way back.

The 21-year-old Coric, who beat Federer in the Gerry Weber Open final in June and also on Saturday in the Shanghai semi-finals, was attempting to become the youngest champion at the Masters 1000 tournament, held at the Qi Zhong Stadium. He is now 8-15 lifetime against Top 5 opponent and is 36-18 on the year (22-11 on hard courts).

Ighalo gets hat trick as Super Eagles whip Libya

By Sports Desk,

Odion Ighalo’s first international hat-trick and a maiden Nigeria goal for Samuel Kalu fired the Super Eagles to a 4-0 victory over Libya in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo on Saturday.

The Changchun Yatai forward opened scoring from the spot in the fourth minute, doubling his tally in the 58th minute, before completing his hat-trick 11 minutes later.

Kalu added a fourth right at the death to seal a win which ensures Nigeria climb into second place in Group E, a point behind leaders South Africa.

Nigeria started in impressive fashion, and were deservedly awarded a third-minute penalty after good pressing from Ighalo forced goalkeeper Muhammad Nashnoush into a foul.

Despite getting a fingertip to the ball, Nashnoush couldn’t prevent Ighalo from opening the scoring and affording the hosts the strong start they craved.

Libya almost responded within minutes, but goalkeeper Francis Uzoho produced a stunning one-handed save to deny Anis Saltou, whose firm header looked goal bound.

Alex Iwobi, who had struggled to influence proceedings in the opening half just behind Ighalo, gradually picked up his pace after the break, and his brilliantly weighed pass which sliced open the Libya defence was calmly tucked home by Ighalo after rounding Nashnoush.

The two-goal advantage clearly spurred Nigeria on, and it was soon increased to three with Ahmed Musa’s squared centre tucked home by Ighalo at the second attempt to complete his hat-trick and net his fourth goal in the qualifying campaign.

New kid on the block Kalu, who had endured a mixed outing on his second start for Nigeria, bagged the final goal in a surprisingly one-sided contest, with Libya perhaps feeling the effects of the shock exit of coach Adel Amrouche’s earlier this week.

Next up for both teams is the reverse fixture on October 16 at the Stade Taieb Mhiri, Sfax, Tunisia as both teams aim to consolidate their position in a bid to bag one of the two available group tickets to Cameroon.

Coric sends Federer packing from Shanghai, books Djokovic in final

By News Desk,

Borna Coric has recorded another big win of his career, defeating defending champion and top seed, Roger Federer in Shanghai Masters in two straight sets 6-4 6-4 on Saturday.

It was the second time in four months the 21-year-old Croatian will upset Federer. He beat Federer in Halle last June, denying the Swiss veteran from ascension to the tennis top.

The 21 year-old Croatian will now face Novak Djokovic in the finals on Sunday. Djokovic earlier easily trounced another young player, German Alexander Zverev 6-2 6-1 in the semi-final.

Victory over Federer makes Coric qualify for the first time in a Masters 1000 final event.

The Zagreb born player went professional in 2013 and has two ATP titles in his bag.

Usain Bolt bangs in two goals on debut for Coastal Mariners

By Sports Desk,

Jamaican multiple Olympic Champion Usain Bolt scored two goals on his debut as a professional player for Australian A-League team Central Coast Mariners.

He scored the two goals in the second half for the club in a friendly.

According to BBC Sports, the Jamaican eight-time Olympic sprint champion scored the Mariners’ third and fourth goals in a 4-0 win over Macarthur South West and celebrated with his trademark lightning bolt pose.

Bolt joined the A-League club in August for an “indefinite training period”.

“My first start and scoring two goals, it’s a good feeling,” Bolt, 32, said.

“I’m happy I could come here and show the world I’m improving. I’m keen to be a Mariner, to play my best and get into the team.”

For his opening goal Bolt ran on to a chipped ball played by Scotland striker Ross McCormack, held off the defender and finished powerfully low past the goalkeeper.

He capitalised on a defensive mix-up for his second, with Macarthur defender and goalkeeper colliding to leave Bolt to tap in from close range.

McCormack, on loan from Aston Villa, headed in the Mariners’ first goal in the eighth minute.

“The best thing about Usain Bolt is he’s so humble,” McCormack said.

“He’s fitted in well with the lads. From my first day even to where he is now, the transformation is huge.”

The 100m and 200m world record holder has previously trained with Borussia Dortmund, South African club Sundowns and Norway’s Stromsgodset.

He retired from athletics in 2017 and has since said it would be a “dream” to play professional football.

The Australian A-League season begins on 19 October and the Mariners are yet to confirm whether Bolt will be offered a contract.