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Sports minister wants local coach for Super Eagles job

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Sunday Dare

Sports minister, Sunday Dare, may have thrown his weight behind the choice of a local coach to take over the Super Eagles coaching job.

Speaking during TotalEnergies AFCON Trophy Tour in Lagos, yesterday, Dare spoke glowingly on the exploits of Nigerian ex-players, who led the Super Eagles to success in past editions of the competition.

“At the 1980 AFCON, a 16-year-old schoolboy, Henry Nwosu, was in the Nigerian squad. Alongside established stars like Best Ogedegbe, Segun Odegbami, Muda Lawal, Felix Owolabi, Christian Chukwu and others, and they delivered Nigeria’s first-ever AFCON title. The entire nation stood still for them.

“Many members of that squad became renowned coaches after their active playing days and made a huge impact in the game. The captain of that squad, Christian Chukwu would later be the assistant coach when Nigeria won the title for the second time in 1994, and the head coach in 2004 when the Super Eagles won the bronze. Interestingly, both tournaments were held in Tunisia.

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“Another product of the 1980 squad was Kadiri Ikhana, who became the first coach to lead a Nigerian club side, Enyimba FC of Aba, to the most prestigious club trophy on the continent in 2003. Ikhana was voted the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Coach of the Year after his feat.

“In 1994, a golden generation of Nigerian players lived up to the hype and fulfilled their potentials by clinching the AFCON trophy in Tunisia. Led by their captain, Stephen Keshi (now late), arguably the biggest influence in Nigerian football ever, Keshi and company swept aside all the oppositions along their path to claim Africa’s biggest football prize. We cannot forget the roles played by superstars like Rashidi Yekini (of blessed memory), Emmanuel Amuneke, Sunday Oliseh, Peter Rufai and others in that squad.”

He continued: “Keshi would later lead the Super Eagles to Nigeria’s third AFCON title as head coach in 2013. He was the second man in history to win the tournament as a player and head coach after Egyptian legend Mohammed El Gohary.

“Keshi’s 1994 teammates – Austin Eguavoen, Samson Siasia and Sunday Oliseh have had their stints as Super Eagles head coaches at one time or the other. Some others like Daniel Amokachi, Finidi George, Emmanuel Amuneke, Nduka Ugbade and Mutiu Adepoju have also had successes as coaches with junior national teams and club sides in Nigeria. Mutiu Adepoju is currently an ambassador for the Spanish La Liga.

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“Nigeria’s last triumph at the AFCON is so significant. Stephen Keshi, the chief coach and his assistant, Daniel Amokachi were 1994 AFCON winners, Sylvanus Okpala, one of the fitness coaches was a 1980 AFCON winner, while the goalkeeper coach, Ike Shorounmu was an AFCON silver medalist in 2000 and bronze medalist in 2002.

“I am looking forward to seeing that headline tomorrow. For us in Nigeria, the AFCON is an important tournament. Football is in our DNA. We eat, sleep and talk football all the time. We are football-loving people and we love our Super Eagles.

“Football is a unifier, the strong force that binds the spirits of all Nigerians together. Religious, cultural, ethnic and political differences and considerations take the back seat when the Super Eagles are playing. This explains our hope, excitement and optimism as we look forward to the kickoff of the 33rd edition of the tournament in less than 50 days,” Dare stated.

He commended TotalEnergies for its commitment to the development of sports in Nigeria, as well as its partnership with the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

“I am excited to see the AFCON trophy here. I have taken this photograph, and every morning, I will pray with it. My dream is to see the Super Eagles win our fourth AFCON trophy in Cameroon.”

Guardian

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Ronaldo hits back at ‘lies’ about Ballon d’Or rivalry with Messi

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Cristiano Ronaldo has hit back at comments made by Ballon d’Or organiser Pascal Ferre, saying the editor-in-chief of France Football “lied” about his rivalry with Lionel Messi.

Ferre told the New York Times on Friday that Manchester United forward Ronaldo’s sole ambition was to retire with more of the awards for the world’s best player than Messi.

Argentine Messi beat Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Chelsea midfielder Jorginho to claim a record-extending seventh Ballon d’Or award.

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“Pascal Ferre lied, he used my name to promote himself and to promote the publication he works for,” Ronaldo, who has won the award five times, said in an Instagram post on Monday.

“It is unacceptable that the person responsible for awarding such a prestigious prize could lie in this way, in absolute disrespect for someone who has always respected France Football and the Ballon d’Or.”

“I always win for myself and for the clubs I represent, I win for myself and for those who love me. I don’t win against someone,” added the Portugal forward.

“The biggest ambition of my career is to leave my name written in golden letters in the history of world football.”

 

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Ronaldo criticises France Football editor over Messi Ballon d’Or claims

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Cristiano Ronaldo has hit back at the editor of France Football who claimed the Manchester United forward’s only ambition is to “retire with more Ballons d’Or than Lionel Messi”.

The Portuguese, who has won the prestigious accolade five times, took to social media on Monday to refute the claims made by Pascal Ferré, who spoke to the New York Times ahead of the 2021 awards.

Messi won the men’s award for a record seventh time at the ceremony in Paris on Monday.

Ferré told the New York Times: “Ronaldo has only one ambition and that is to retire with more Ballon d’Or [awards] than Messi. I know because he has told me.”

However, Ronaldo has disputed that version of events and took to Instagram to claim that Ferré “lied” during the interview.

“Today’s outcome explains the comments by Pascal Ferré last week, when he stated that I confided in him that my only ambition was to finish my career with more Ballons d’Or than Lionel Messi,” a Ronaldo statement said.

“Pascal Ferré lied and used my name to promote himself and to promote the publication that he works for. It’s unacceptable for the person responsible for handing out such a prestigious award to lie in this way and to show disrespect to someone who has always respected France Football and the Ballon d’Or. He lied again today to justify my absence from the ceremony due to an alleged quarantine that has no reason to exist.

“I always congratulate whoever wins, in tandem with the sportsmanship and fair play that have underpinned my career since the start and I do that because I’m never against anyone. I always win for myself and for the clubs that I represent. I win for myself and for those who love me. I don’t win against anyone.”

Ronaldo added: “My biggest ambition in my career is to win trophies at club and international level, for the clubs that I play for and my national team. My biggest ambition in my career is to set a good example for everyone who is or wants to be a professional footballer. My biggest ambition in my career is to have my name written in gold in world football history.

“I’ll finish up by saying that my focus is already on Manchester United’s next game and everything that we can still achieve this season alongside my teammates and our fans. As for the rest, the rest is just that…”

 

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Messi wins record seventh Ballon d’Or

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Lionel Messi has claimed a record seventh men’s Ballon d’Or award, beating Robert Lewandowski.

The award ceremony was held at the Théâtre du Chatelet in Paris, France on Monday evening.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward ended his long wait for a major international trophy when he helped Argentina win the Copa America in the summer.

He also guided Barcelona to Copa del Rey glory before moving to the French capital in August.

Lewandowski, however, won the maiden ‘Striker of the Year’ award – one of the two new awards introduced by France Football in 2021.

In the women’s category, Alexia Putellas, Barcelona’s midfielder, clinched the Ballon d’Or to become the third woman to achieve the feat.

The 27-year-old captained her club to the Champions League title last season, ending Lyon’s five-year reign.

She was recently named ‘UEFA Player of the Year’ and also lifted the Spanish league and cup last season, completing the treble.

Pedri claimed the Kopa Trophy, the award for best performing player under the age of 21.

The 19-year-old Spaniard, who recently won the ‘Golden Boy’ prize, also came 24th in this year’s Ballon d’Or.

 

Gianluigi Donnarumma beat Edouard Mendy, Jan Oblak, Ederson, and Manuel Neuer respectively to clinch the Yashin Trophy, which is the award for best goalkeeper.

The Italian claimed the prize after finishing 10th in the Ballon d’Or.

 

Aside from the regular categories of the men and women’s Ballon d’Or, Kopa Trophy, and Yashin Trophy, France Football also introduced the ‘Best Club’ and ‘Best Striker of the Year’ in the 2021 class.

 

The 2021 Balloon d’Or is the 65th annual award ceremony organised to recognise the best footballers in the world.

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