It was supposed to be all about Sergio Aguero, but it was a fellow Manchester City player with an uncertain future that made the difference as the Premier League leaders took another huge step towards the title on Saturday evening.
Benjamin Mendy was making just his second Premier League appearance in four months as he nimbly avoided one challenge and coolly sidefooted home the crucial opener in a 2-0 win over Leicester City that propelled Pep Guardiola’s side 17 points clear at the top of the table.
City had dominated against Brendan Rodgers’ strangely unadventurous side and were only missing a goal until Mendy became the game’s unlikely hero.
Aguero was one of the first players to sprint over to celebrate with the enigmatic Frenchman, who has found himself on the periphery of Guardiola’s plans this season.
But it almost seemed unfair that the Argentine was never presented with an opening as enticing as the one Mendy converted in the 58th minute.
Just five days after the announcement that Aguero would leave the club, he was given the opportunity to show from the first whistle that he still has plenty to offer at the highest level.
Against Leciester, the 32-year-old made his usual astute runs, worked hard off the ball, linked up with the team – but somehow the big chance he was craving never came.
Indeed, his biggest goal contribution was getting Fernandinho’s 30-yard strike into the bottom corner of the Leicester goal disallowed, with Aguero standing in an offside position when he leapt out of the way of the Brazilian’s superb fifth-minute shot.
The striker could not hide his frustration during the game as he was forced to feed off scraps while others went close to scoring, with Kevin De Bruyne firing against the bar, and Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus both forcing Kasper Schmeichel into action.
He clasped his hands in frustration when Jesus failed to square the ball to him after he had found some space for himself in the six-yard box.
He held his head in his hands after he volleyed high over the bar when a poor clearance had dropped for him around the penalty spot, and then slapped his thigh when he failed to control a short pass as he darted into the box.
And he was already in the dugout, replaced by Raheem Sterling two minutes after Mendy’s goal, when fellow forward Jesus poked in City’s second goal in the 74th minute.
Still, despite Aguero’s disappointment, this was a victory that showed City’s strength in depth as they ramped up their bid for an unprecedented quadruple.
While Mendy’s long-term future at the club remains uncertain, he stepped seamlessly into a side that easily dealt with a team that scored five times at the Etihad Stadium in September.
He was one of six players that started against the Foxes after staying behind at the Etihad Campus during the international break.
Reps summon Sunday Dare over athletes’ disqualification at Tokyo Olympics
The house of representatives has summoned Sunday Dare, minister of youth and sports development, over the disqualification of 10 athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The lower chamber passed the resolution during plenary session on Wednesday following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Lawrence Ayeni, lawmaker from Osun state.
The minister is to brief the lawmakers on the level of Nigeria’s compliance with extant regulations set by the International Association of
Athletics Federations (IAAF) and Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).
It was reported how the AIU disqualified 10 Nigerian track and field athletes for failing to comply with the out-of-competition testing (OCT) requirement.
AIU said Nigeria is among countries deemed to have the highest doping risk, and the athletes were expected to undergo “at least three no-notice out-of-competition tests (urine and blood) conducted no less than 3 weeks apart in the 10 months leading up to a major event”.
Leading the debate on the motion on Wednesday, Ayeni said Nigeria was disqualified despite the “huge funds” available to the sports ministry and preparation made by the athletes.
“Nigeria delegation to the Olympic Games fared well in terms of performance, thereby raising the country’s rating the comity of nations,” he said.
“Concerned that despite the huge funds being made available yearly for the regulatory agencies in the sports sector, adequate efforts have not been made to get Nigeria into the category where they would be deemed to have made significant improvements in anti-doping tests.”
The motion was unanimously adopted after it was put to a voice vote by Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house.
While mandating its committee on sports to investigate the cause of the “failed doping test to forestall future occurrence,” the green chamber asked the ministry of sports to put measures in place to “ensure compliance with extant regulations at both local and international competitions”.
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D’Tigress beat Angola to make Afrobasket quarter-finals
D’Tigress, Nigeria’s senior women basketball team, on Monday in Yaoundé beat their Angolan counterparts 85-65 to advance to the quarter-finals of the 2021 FIBA Women’s AfroBasket Championship.
In their final Group B game, the Nigerian side dislodged the Angolans who were leading the group to make it two wins from two matches and emerge as group leaders.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a loss would have seen the Nigerian side finishing second and going to play in the qualifier to quarter-finals match against Cape Verde on Wednesday.
It was a similar route their male counterparts, D’Tigers, carved for themselves at the Men’s AfroBasket a few weeks ago in Rwanda, and it did them no good.
On Monday, D’Tigress ensured none of that by leading from the first quarter, which they won 31-18.
They extended their lead with a 21-10 win in the second quarter, heading for the game’s long break period comfortable leaders with a whooping 24 points.
They however stepped off the throttle in the third and fourth quarters, losing 15-19 and then drawing 18-18 respectively,
Adaora Elonu was a top performer for them, with 10 points, three rebounds and four assists, while Ezinne Kalu grabbed 12 points, just as Ify Ibekwe also had eight rebounds.
With the 67-50 win over Mozambique in their opening group phase game on Saturday, D’Tigress won the group and will now face either one of Cote d’Ivoire or Guinea in the quarter-finals on Thursday.
The two west African sides will meet on Wednesday in the qualifier to quarter-finals to decide which of them would advance to meet Nigeria.
Nigeria have thus avoided the qualifier to quarter-finals stage, where D’Tigers lost to Uganda at the Men’s AfroBasket in Rwanda.
Angola, Group B runners-up after the loss to Nigeria, now have to overcome the hurdle of facing Cape Verde before they can play in the quarter-finals.(
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