NFF ties $24M cash prize to Russia 2018 world Cup final

By SportDesk,

The Super Eagles has been promised $24 million as cash prize, by Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Amaju Pinnick, if the team could perform better and get to final of the 2018 World Cup.

On that the World Cup which would be commenced by June 14 and come to end by July 15 in Russia, Pinnick, who spoke newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday at a parley, stated that that the money was part of the agreement reached with the players to share 50-50.

 

He also said that adequate preparation including grade A friendly matches have been secured with England and Czech Republic to ensure the team do well at the World Cup.

The NFF boss further disclosed that the glass house had already secured $2.8 million to pay the players allowances and bonuses during the mundial.

“I don’t put players under pressure. Pressure can be put on them unconsciously because we are creating enabling environment for them.

“If for example we don’t have money to prepare them, they can now relax but now, we have given them everything upfront and now, they should deliver.

“If today they get to the final, the World Cup money will be shared 50-50 between the team and the NFF.

“Winning the final is 48 million dollars, it means the team will get 24 million dollars and the football house will take the remaining 24 million dollars,” Pinnick said.

“We are ready to play against England on June 2 in London in an international friendly; we had a conclusive meeting with the English FA.

“After the England match, we will play Czech Republic and from there we move to Russia. As it is, everything is going on very well.

“For the World Cup, I don’t think we have any problem, I am in touch with the technical committee. It is the desire of every Nigerian to see the Super Eagles do well at the World Cup.

“We had a meeting with the team; we signed a contract with them and ready to pay them 20 per cent of eight million which is what accrued to us for qualifying for the World Cup.

“At the end of the day it amounts to 2.8million dollars which will go to the players. The money is almost 100 per cent ready,” Pinnick added.

Pinnick also explained that the football house met with some state governors who were ready to assist the NFF financially to achieve the country’s World Cup dream.

He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his support for the NFF and the Super Eagles, and assured that they would not let him down in Russia.

South Africa backs Morocco’s bid to host the 2026 World Cup

By NewsDesk, with Agency report,

The South African soccer leader, Danny Jordaan, has promised Morocco  support to host its dreamt 2026 World Cup in a contest against a combined North American bid.

However, the South African federation said on Monday that Jordaan assured a visiting Morocco bid delegation and that he would personally lobby” African officials ahead of the scheduled vote in Moscow on June 13.

Morocco is up against a United States-Canada-Mexico bid to stage the continent’s second World Cup. South Africa hosted in 2010, after beating Morocco and Egypt in a vote.

That South African bid is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for a suspicious $10 million payment to FIFA voters in the North American region. In indictments published by the justice department in 2015, two of the listed “co-conspirators” are South African soccer officials who are not identified.

Now, Morocco is competing against the Americans to co-host the 48-team tournament. Up to 207 FIFA member federations will vote at their congress on the eve of the World Cup in Russia.

North American bid leaders targeted the 14-member southern African soccer body COSAFA at a February meeting in Johannesburg.

Newcastle beats Arsenal 2-1 at St James’ Park

By SportDesk,

Newcastle United has fixed itself in Premier League safety as it came from a goal down to beat Arsenal 2-1 at a spring-like St James’ Park on Sunday.

Alexandre Lacazette’s stretching volley gave Arsenal the lead in the 14th minute but Ayoze Perez clipped in Newcastle’s equaliser on the half hour mark.

Newcastle were the better side after the break and took the lead in the 68th minute when Matt Ritchie fired home after a neat flick from Perez.

Newcastle have 41 points in 10th place with sixth-placed Arsenal on 54 — 13 points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.

“40 points was the target at the start of the season and hopefully we’ve done enough now to secure our Premier League status,” Matt Ritchie told Sky Sports.

“Now we want to keep going and try to finish as high as we can in the table,” he added.

EPL’s trophy goes to Man City after West Brom defeat Manchester united

By SportDesk,

Manchester City has been crowned English Premier League champions for 2017-2018 winner after West Brom Albion defeated Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford on Sunday.

To fans, not that the victory of City was in any doubt, but pundits felt it could be postponed by another week if Manchester United beat the Darren Moore coached West Brom.

The match defied all expectations and permutations as Jay Rodriguez nodded in the only goal of the match in the 73rd minute. United did not recover from the upset.

Despite the victory, West Brom are stuck at the bottom of the table with 24 points.

Manchester City, with five games remaining have 87 points, 16 points more than City rivals, Manchester United.

Victory against Spurs at Wembley had given City an unassailable position to clinch the title. United bowing to West Brom only made things easier.

City celebrated the championship on its website, proclaiming:

“Record-smashing, goal-scoring, swashbuckling and awe-inspiring – boss Pep Guardiola has overseen a scintillating campaign, setting new standards of brilliance in English football.

“This title was not the last-minute miracle of 2012, or the last-day drama of 2014 but rather a serene glide to glory.

“An incredible 18-match winning streak, running from August to New Year’s Eve, saw City surge away from the opposition and take a grip on the table that never loosened.

“In sealing the title at this point, City have equalled the Premier League record for the earliest win held by United since 2001.

“City are only the third club to beat all other teams in a single Premier League season, after Chelsea in 2005-06 and United in 2010-11.”

“The Blues have emerged victorious from all bar five league matches so far to achieve a points total of 87 and lift the English top-flight title for the fifth time in the Club’s history.

“The feat was also achieved in the 1936-37, 1967-68, 2011-12 and 2013-14 campaigns.”

Chelsea comes back with 3-1 against Southampton

By SportDesk,

Fans of Chelsea sigh relief of poor performance following spectacular comeback the team’s three goals in nine second-half minutes to beat Southampton 3-2 on Saturday.

However, the win revives the London club’s faint hopes of a top-four Premier League finish as Saints remained in the drop zone.

Substituted Olivier Giroud scored twice, his first league goals for Chelsea, either side of an Eden Hazard strike.

The goals came just when it looked like Antonio Conte’s visitors lacked the fight against opponents who scrapped for every tackle at St Mary’s.

Less than 10 minutes after coming off the bench just past the hour, Frenchman Giroud met Marcus Alonso’s cross for his first goal.

He then shot clinically from the edge of the area for the winner as Saints paid for some sloppy defending.

The win moved Chelsea within seven points of fourth-placed London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who host Manchester City later on Saturday, and Liverpool who welcome Bournemouth

“The most important thing is you never give up,” said Giroud, who also scored for his previous club Arsenal at Southampton earlier this season.

“As long as it is mathematically possible to finish in the top four we will keep battling. It was important to show some character.”

Southampton looked to be cruising towards a win that would have lifted them up to 17th and out of the relegation places, at least temporarily.

Dusan Tadic and Jan Bednarek put them two goals ahead after an hour.

Bednarek’s goal was his first in the top flight in only his third game for the club.

The 22-year-old Pole met James Ward-Prowse’s cross on the half-volley to leave Chelsea, who might have had Alonso sent off for a stamp on Shane Long, in a desperate position.

But Saints have struggled to hold on to leads this season and collapsed halfway through the second period, conceding three goals for the fourth successive league game.

Southampton manager Mark Hughes now faces a desperately difficult fight to keep his team in the Premier League.

“As has been the case all year, apparently we’ve got a soft underbelly,” he said.

“When the momentum shifts against us we can’t get a platform and wait until the momentum swings our way again.”

With five games remaining, they have been left three points below the safety zone before the rest of the weekend matches.

Southampton face Chelsea again in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley next weekend.

FIFA looks forward to Club World Cup revamp, targets $1b revenue

By NewsDesk,

The world soccer governing body, FIFA,  has disclosed proposed plan to revamped and enlarged version of the Club World Cup, which may kick start by 2021, to include European champions, runners-up and Europa League winners from four seasons up to and including the year of the event.

As planned, the proposed tournament would be held every four years instead of annually, feature 31 matches and need to generate between $650 million and $1 billion in revenue to be commercially viable.

It disclosed that aside from the European teams, there would be four or five from South America, none or one from Oceania and two each from Asia, CONCACAF and Africa.

In a proposal released by the FIFA on Friday, it hinted that club would be divided into eight groups of three with the group winners progressing to the knockout stage and last four winners of Europe’s Champions League would all qualify along with the runners-up and the previous four winners of the second-tier Europa league.

The four most recent winners of the Copa Libertadores, the South American equivalent of the Champions League, would also take part.

The document said that “it is crucial that all participating clubs are qualified based on sporting merit.”

If the same team qualified more than once, a replacement would be chosen using a coefficient system.

The plan runs the risk that a team which qualifies three years ahead of the event could potentially suffer a decline in the intervening period.

In theory, a team could even be relegated in the meantime and, although that would be highly unlikely in Europe, it is a possibility in South America where teams break up very quickly.

Play-offs would be held to determine which two of the previous four African, Asian and CONCACAF champions would qualify.

The document, presented to the FIFA Council meeting in Bogota in March, said that June-July 2021 would a “suitable time” to hold the first version of the tournament.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said that he wants to change the format of the competition which is currently held every year with seven teams but has not given further details.

FIFA has not commented on reports by the New York Times and Financial Times this week that a consortium of investors had offered FIFA up to $25 billion to buy the rights to the tournament and a new global league for national teams.

In outlining the proposals, FIFA said “it is undeniable that the potential for a successful elite international club competition is immense in all senses.”

The document added that “the tournament (Club World Cup) has yet to fulfil its full potential as a top-class international competition for clubs.”

“It is FIFA’s vision to build a new club competition that is exciting, dynamic, inclusive and prestigious, through which a true world club champion will be crowned,” it continued.

FIFA said it would “investigate the commercial appetite for the competition” and that a gross revenue of $650 million to $1 billion “would be required to make it a successful project.”

Seventy-five percent of the revenue would go to the participating teams.

Potential host nations would need a “strong appetite for football, high interest from commercial sector to invest, high growth potential for top clubs.”

Madrid draws Bayern, Liverpool vs Roma for Champion League semi-final

By NewsDesk,

Semi-finals of Champions League would have defending champions Real Madrid face Bayern Munich  while Liverpool play AS Roma in a repeat of the 1984 final.

After a draw, it became certain that Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real will go to Bayern’s Allianz Arena for the first leg while Liverpool will host Roma at Anfield in their first match, after Friday’s draw. It will be a rematch between the two teams as they met in the quarter-finals of the competition in 2017.

 

The Liverpool-Roma tie pits Mohamed Salah, who has scored 39 goals in all competitions already this season, against his former club.

Roma tweeted about how it looks forward to have Egyptian striker again.

“Looking forward to seeing you again,”

Real, who have won the competition 12 times, reached the semi-finals by fighting off a remarkable Juventus comeback before Ronaldo scored a late penalty to give them a 4-3 win on aggregate.

Roma produced one of the most remarkable comebacks in Champions League history to knock out Lionel Messi’s Barcelona with a 3-0 victory in the Italian capital that gave them an unexpected win on away goals over the two legs.

Bundesliga champions Bayern, who named Niko Kovac as their next coach minutes before the draw, eased past Sevilla in their quarter-final.

Liverpool beat runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City 5-1 on aggregate to set up their meeting with Roma. The English side won the 1984 final, played in Rome, on penalties.

The first legs will take place on April 24-25 and the second will be on May 1-2.

The 2018 final will be played in Kiev.

Arsenal’s Xhaka, Mkhitaryan miss out against Russian giant

By SportDesk,

Arsenal top players, Granit Xhaka and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, would not be able to play during their team match of Europa League quarter-final clash against CSKA Moscow.

Xhaka, the Swedish international, was reported to had developed flu that cost him not to travel to Russia with the rest of the Arsenal squad yesterday.

Xhaka was part of the team that beat CSKA 4-1 at home last week.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan, a former Manchester United player is still nursing a knee injury, sustained during the club’s English Premier league match against Southampton on Suday.

Arsenal are three goals ahead as they take on CSK Moscow tonight.

Meanwhile, CSKA Moscow coach Viktor Goncharenko is hopeful that Arsenal’s attacking philosophy could leave the Premier League side on the receiving end of a Europa League shock tonight.

While progression to the final four for Arsene Wenger’s side appears a formality, Barcelona were eliminated from the Champions League at Roma on Tuesday while trying to defend the same advantage.

Experienced CSKA defender Aleksei Berezutski admits the Russians need their own ‘miracle’ to turn things around against Arsenal.

“Roma played a magnificent match and made a miracle,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of chances to repeat the same miracle, but sometimes miracles happen in football. Of course Arsenal are extremely motivated because winning the Europa League is the way into the Champions League, so this is their motivation.”

“Arsenal have a philosophy and have stuck to it for a long time, for many years, regardless of their record,” he said.

“If they are losing or winning they still play to make supporters and fans happy. When you act like this, trying to cheer up the supporters, you can have some problems in the defence.

“Tomorrow’s (today) strategy for Arsenal could be done in different ways, but they will be focusing on their attack of course.

“If we play without believing in yourself and without faith it is better not to play at all. We need to go to the pitch believing in ourselves and that we can make it into the next round. We need to change some things.”

Bayern, Madrid head to Champion League Semi-final, Juventus, Sevilla out of race

By SportDesk,

Home and away goals sent Both German club side, Bayern Munich, and Spanish team, Madrid, to Champion League semifinal with the duo narrowly escaping defeat from Italian Juventus and another Spanish club, Sevilla.

A goalless draw against Sevilla on Wednesday was enough to send Bayern Munich into the Champions League last four with a 2-1 aggregate victory.

The slim win keeps the Bavarians’ hopes of a treble-winning season alive.

Bayern, playing in their seventh straight Champions League quarter-final, never needed to hit top form but were in control throughout with the largely toothless Spaniards only rarely venturing into their opponents’ box.

The Germans, who last won the treble in 2013 again under coach Jupp Heynckes, had secured a 2-1 advantage from last week’s first leg in Spain.

Sevilla ended the game with ten men after the dismissal in stoppage time of Joaquin Correa for a rough challenge.

The result, however, meant Sevilla managed to snap Heynckes’ 12-game record winning run in the competition.

It was the Spanish side’s first qualification for the last eight of the European Cup since their only previous appearance at this stage 60 years ago.

However, Cristiano Ronaldo scored with the last kick of the match, as Real Madrid qualified for the semi-final of the Champions League ahead of Juventus.

The defending champions went into the second leg of the tie 3-0 up and were favourites to progress into the last four.

However, Mario Mandzukic scored twice in the first half for the Serie A giants, to breath life into the game.

Blaise Matuidi levelled the tie on aggregate, after Keylor Navas failed to hold on to Douglas Costa’s cross.

With seconds left at the Santiago Bernabeu, referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot for an infringement on Lucas Vaszquez. The English official also sent Gianluigi Buffon off for protesting.

Ronaldo stepped up and smashed the ball past Woijiech Szczesny.

Roma, Liverpool move to Champions League quarter final, Barcelona, Man City out

By SportDesk,

Roma made a surprising return into game from 1-4 at first leg of  UEFA Champions quarter final, pairing with Barcelona to beat former champions and Spanish leaders 3-0 and qualify for the semi-finals on goals aggregate.

Bosnia’s Edin Dzeko started Roma revival in the 6th minute and in the second half, De Rossi scored via a penalty and Manolas completed the coup de grace with a stunning header in the 82nd minute.

The unexpected turnaround turned the fans at Stadio Olimpico into wild jubilation.

Liverpool at Etihad Stadium completed their demolition of Manchester City, cruising to the semi-finals on 5-1 goal aggregate, after surviving a nightmarish first half, in which City scored their only goal in two minutes.

The victory marked the first time since 2008 that Liverpool would qualify for the semi-final of the competition.