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CAF Player of the Year wants top coaches for Nigeria

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

Newly crowned CAF Female Footballer of the year, Asisat Oshoala, says the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, must hire a top professional coach for the Super Falcons in order to challenge with other great teams in world football.

The former Arsenal and Liverpool star, who currently plies her trade with Chinese side, Dalian Quanjian, has enjoyed a great height for both club and country.

Having won the golden ball and the golden boot at the 2014 Under 20 Women’s World Cup as Nigeria finished runners-up, and an African Cup of Nations winner’s medal the same year, Oshoala has started to eye international glory.

She revealed that for the Super Falcons to reach the highest peak of football like other countries such as Germany, Japan, USA and South Korea, the NFF must hire a very good coach.

“We don’t want to be sharing with the men’s team anymore and waiting for the funds to be able to do things,” she said.

“We need our own committees that can run things for the women. We also need top professional coaches. Football is getting harder. There are a lot of teams out there that are getting better every year. We need to do everything within our reach to move forward, keep people in Africa and make us strong enough to compete on a world stage.”

Barcelona make strong bid for Coutinho

By Emmanuel Onminyi with Agency report,

Spanish giants, Barcelona, have announced that they are ready to pay 140 million Pounds to break Liverpool’s hold on their star player, Philippe Coutinho, as the push to secure the Brazilian forward begins.

The Spanish club hope to succeed with an initial payment of 105 million Pounds, followed by a 35 million Pounds addition  based on appearances and success, making Coutinho the second-most expensive footballer in history, behind Paris St-Germain’s Neymar.

Meanwhile, Kylian Mbappe would overtake Coutinho once his loan move to PSG from Monaco is made permanent in deal later in the summer of the ongoing season.

However, Liverpool do not want to sell the 25-year-old and are making strenuous efforts to keep him, the player remains intent on heading to the Nou Camp.

The Reds, who are not chasing replacements, are focusing on convincing Coutinho he can achieve Champions League ambitions at Anfield next season.

According to reports on The Age, manager of the side, Jurgen Klopp, has again refused to guarantee Coutinho’s stay. He insist, however, that the transfer saga would not cast a shadow over Liverpool’s coming games.

Coutinho and Mohamed Salah will be notable absentees in this week’s FA Cup third-round tie against Everton, as there are injury worries over both player.

 

Chelsea star, Moses, makes 2017 African Team of the Year

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

Chelsea and Super Eagles star, Victor Moses, has been named in the African Team of the Year for 2017 by celebrated French football magazine, France Football.

The right talented wing-back was the only player of Nigerian descent that made the prestigious list after commanding a good performance in the year.

The list contains English Premier League stars, Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mane, (both from Liverpool), but there was no spot for Borussia Dortmund’s striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who was listed among the five substitutes.

Moses had a good season in 2017, helping Chelsea win the Premier League title and reach the final of the Emirates FA Cup; he was also outstanding during Nigeria’s quest for a place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The 27-year-old missed out on the Confederation of African Football and BBC Player of the Year but is among the favourites to be named in CAF’s Team of the Year at next week’s gala ceremony in Accra, Ghana.

He has been nominated for the best right winger in Africa in 2017 by CAF along with Keita Balde (Monaco, Senegal) and Mohammed Ounnajem (Wydad Athletic Club Casablanca, Morocco).

The African Team of the Year according to France Football include:

Essen El Hadary (Egypt, Al-Taawoun), Nabil Dirar (Morocco, Fenerbache), Medhi Benatia (Morocco, Juventus), Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal, Naples), Faouzi Ghoulam (Algeria, Naples), Victor Moses (Nigeria, Chelsea) , Naby Keita (RB Leipzig, Guinea), Jean-Michael Seri (Ivory Coast, OGC Nice), Mohamed Salah (Egypt, Liverpool), Sadio Mane (Senegal, Liverpool), Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon, FC Porto).

The substitutes are:

Fabrice Ondoa (Cameroon, AC Seville), Ahmed Hegazy (Egypt, WBA), Thomas Partey (Ghana, Atletico Madrid), Hakim Ziyech (Morocco, Ajax Amsterdam), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon, Borussia Dortmund).

Blues join chase for Eagles right-back, Abdullahi

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

English Championship side, Birmingham City, have launched a move for Nigeria international, Shehu Abdullahi, who has been on the radar of a host of European club-sides in recent weeks.

The 24-year-old utility player, who is capable of playing at right-back or in midfield, is in the final year of his contract with Cypriot club, Anorthosis Famagusta.

According to the Daily Mail, the Blues have made an enquiry for Abdullahi’s services, but Anorthosis want to avoid losing him on a free transfer so they could cash in around 500,000 Pounds when the transfer window reopens.

Birmingham fought their way up the Championship table after a difficult first half of the campaign. The St Andrew’s chiefs are, however, ready to back under-fire boss, Steve Cotterill, in the transfer market.

According to 90MinutesGoal.com, Premier League giants, Everton and Liverpool, are also interested in Abdullahi, as they seek to beef up their respective wing-back positions.

Everton have been without first-choice right-back, Seamus Coleman, since he suffered a broken leg in March and manager of the side, Sam Allardyce, believes Coleman is still “a way off” returning. Liverpool, on the other hand, are looking to strengthen their right-full back position with Nathaniel Clyne set to be sidelined until February.

Speaking last month, a representative for Abdullahi said: “Yes we have offers from Spain, France, Italy and Merseyside clubs in England.

“We will study which offer is best for our client, since he will be a free agent after the World Cup,” the source concluded.

According to the Daily Mail: German outfit Freiburg and Turkish side Trabzonspor are also in the hunt for the former Kano Pillars defender.

Liverpool sign Van Dijk for world record fee

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

English Premier League powerhouse, Liverpool, have signed Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk for a reported 75 million Pounds ($100-million), in a deal that makes him the world’s most expensive defender.

Van Dijk has been linked with a move to Liverpool for several months and the Anfield club were forced to issue an apology after an alleged illegal approach for the Netherlands international earlier this year.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp has remained determined to sign Van Dijk as he tries to patch up a leaky defence that has fatally damaged Liverpool’s Premier League title ambitions.

“Delighted and honoured to have agreed to become a Liverpool FC player,” Van Dijk wrote on Twitter, alongside a photo of him with a Liverpool shirt.

“Today is a proud day for me and my family as I join one of the biggest clubs in world football.

“I can’t wait to pull on the famous red shirt for the first time in front of the Kop and will give everything I have to try and help this great club achieve something special in the years to come.”

Although Chelsea’s Antonio Conte and Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola were said to be interested in Van Dijk, it was Klopp who had the last laugh.

The defender will earn a weekly wages of 180,000 Pounds.

Klopp may leave Liverpool soon

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

Liverpool’s coach Jurgen Klopp has insisted that remaining at Liverpool for a long time is unrealistic, and he will consider leaving if he ends the club’s top-flight trophy drought.

The 50-year-old is two years into a seven-year deal at Anfield, the same length of time he spent at former sides Mainz 05 and Borussia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga.

Ahead of the Liverpool’s trip to Arsenal on December 22, where Arsene Wenger has been in charge for more than two decades, Klopp has admitted that even winning a first Premier League title for Liverpool could signal the end of his spell on Merseyside.

“Stay here 20 years? Don’t know, don’t know,” he told reporters. “A few weeks ago I saw a statistic for the longest-serving coaches in the Bundesliga and I’m the record coach of two clubs – Mainz and Dortmund.”

“It would be quite difficult to become the record coach at Liverpool. I don’t know. As long as it works really, really well. That means there must be space for improvement, because even if you win something, which everyone here is desperately waiting for, it could be the moment I say, ‘okay but now we have to leave it’. That is the moment nobody thinks of doing it, going out at the top.

“So far I think I have a very good feeling for these moments. In both situations, I think it was the right moment for both sides, for both parties, the clubs and me and my coaching staff. We will see. I don’t feel I am close to that moment and everything is fine.”

Meanwhile, Wenger last lifted the English Premier League title 13 years ago and has won three FA Cups since then.

NFF’s boss, Pinnick laments Moses’ exclusion from CAF’s awards list

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

Nigeria Football Federation’s president, Amaju Pinnick, said he was at a loss with the exclusion of Super Eagles and Chelsea star, Victor Moses, from the shortlist of nominees for the 2017 Africa Footballer of the Year award.

Egypt’s and Liverpool forward, Mohammed Salah, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang of Borussia Dortmund and Gabon, and Sadio Mane of Senegal and Liverpool made the final list for the awards scheduled for January in Accra, Ghana.

Speaking with Citi Sports, Pinnick said: “I’m not happy because I feel that Moses should be part of the last three.”

“The only reason why Riyad (Mahrez) won the award last year was because of what he did with Leicester (City).

 “And Moses helped Chelsea to win the league; played in the FA Cup final; and helped Nigeria qualify for the World Cup. So I wonder why.

“I’m surprised. Maybe we should look at other criteria other than coaches who already have their mindset about who they want to vote for,” Pinnick added.

“Tell me what Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did last year to deserve a place ahead of Moses. Aubameyang should not be on that list. He’s struggling with (Borussia Dortmund), he concluded.”

No Nigerian player has been awarded African Footballer of the Year since Nwankwo Kanu won it in 2009.

Birmingham to be named 2022 Commonwealth Games host

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

As the build-up for the next Commonwealth Games begins,The City of Birmingham, United Kingdom, is expected to be announced as the host city for the 2022 Games, on Wednesday, December 20.

Media reports suggest that the decision could be formally announced at a news conference attended by Commonwealth Games Federation, CGF, President, Louise Martin, in Birmingham on Thursday, December 21.

The Midlands city was the only potential host to submit a bid before the September 30 deadline, but the CGF ruled that the bid was not “fully compliant” and re-opened the bidding process for a further two months. No further bids were received before the November 30 final deadline.

Durban, South Africa was originally awarded the Games in 2015 before being stripped of the event in March because it failed to meet promises contained in its bid.

Birmingham was chosen as Britain’s candidate city in September, beating a rival bid from Liverpool and receiving UK government’s backing.

Bid organizers have said that 95 percent of the competition venues are already in place with Alexander Stadium, an established athletics venue, set for an increase in capacity and facilities upgrade.

The only new venue proposed in Birmingham’s bid, is the Sandwell Aquatics Centre, which will host Swimming, Para Swimming and Diving.

The city center Victoria Square will also be used for 3×3 Basketball and Wheelchair Basketball.

Moses fails to make CAF list for player of the year

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

For the umpteenth time, the Confederation of Africa Football, CAF, has failed to look towards the direction of Nigeria, as Super Eagles winger, Victor Moses name was missing on the list of the three players left for the Africa Player of the year award which was released on Monday, December 18.

Moses, who had a brilliant performance with reigning English Premier League champions, Chelsea, last season could not make the final three cut as Gabon striker,  Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Egypt winger, Mohamed Salah and Senegal striker, Sadio Mane will slug it out for the ultimate prize.

Salah, was recently named BBC Player of the year and remain a favourite to clinched the honour for the first time, as he continue his impressive form for Liverpool.

In the other category, Super Eagles manager Gernot Rohr is a finalist for the Coach of the Year, along with Hector Cuper (Egypt) and L’Hussein Amoutta (Wydad Athletic Club).

Nigeria’s men’s national team and Under 20 women’s  team have been shortlisted for National Team of the Year and Women’s National Team of the Year respectively.

It would be recalled that Nwankwo Kanu was the last Nigerian to win the award, after he clinched it in 1999 ahead of Samuel Kuffour of Ghana, and Ibrahima Bakayoko of Ivory Coast.

The awards gala is slated for Thursday, 4 January 2018 in Accra, Ghana.

Ndidi enters history books following red card

By Emmanuel Onminyi,

History played its part in the showdown between Leicester City and Crystal Palace in their most recent English Premier League fixture, as Super Eagles midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi, entered Nigerian books after he was sent off in his club’s 3-0 loss to Palace in the, on December 16.

In the 61st minute, the Foxes midfielder was dismissed for a second yellow card by referee, Martin Atkinson, in a game where they were condemned to a defeat in front of their home fans.

According to reports, Ndidi became the fourth player (and only Nigerian player) to be sent off on his birthday in the Premier League after Dwight Gayle (17 October 2015 against West Ham), Gerry Taggart (18 October 1997, also against the Hammers) and Les Ferdinand (8 December 1993 against Liverpool).

Since the inception of the Premier League, nine players of Nigerian descent have seen red, including Ndidi, who has just been shown his first red cards in the English top-flight.

The other players include John Obi Mikel, Shola Ameobi, Celestine Babayaro, Yakubu, Victor Anichebe, Peter Odemwingie, Sam Sodje and Joseph Yobo.

Mikel, who is still active for the Super Eagles, was given the marching orders in Chelsea’s matches against Reading in 2006 and Manchester United in 2007.