Iwobi, Eze listed among EPL’s most improved players
Super Eagles midfielder, Alex Iwobi, has been listed among Premier League’s most-improved players in the ongoing season, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
Other players listed among Iwobi are Miguel Almiron, Eric Dier, Diogo Dalot, Joelinton, Ivan Toney, Fabian Schar, Gabriel Martinelli, Eberechi Eze and Granit Xhaka.
Formerly ostracised by Carlo Ancelotti and Rafa Benitez at Goodison Park, Iwobi appeared to have amounted to nothing more than a utility player at Everton.
The Nigerian had managed only four Premier League goals in three seasons having joined from Arsenal as a forward player in a deal worth £34m including add-ons.
This season, however, Iwobi has looked a player reborn under Lampard. Indeed, it is form carrying over from the end of the last campaign when he was one of the standout performers in the club’s march to safety.
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But since earning regular starts under Frank Lampard, the Nigerian has emerged as a pivotal part of the Toffees’ system this season, offering an abundance of energy in midfield and has been involved in over 50 per cent of the Toffees goals so far.
He has also racked up five assists in the currently campaign.
No longer a winger or playmaker, Iwobi is now viewed as a hard-working, box-to-box midfielder under Lampard and has helped Everton climb to 11th in the table.
Iwobi’s hard-working role in the engine room has helped boost Everton’s defensive record
The 26-year-old, who is tasked with breaking up play and tracking runners in midfield, has contributed to the Toffees’ superb defensive record so far this season, which is the best among teams outside the top five (Arsenal, Man City, Spurs, Newcastle and Chelsea).
Attributing Iwobi’s resurgence to Lampard’s belief in him, team-mate Andros Townsend said: ‘Rafa used to have this fitness test and Alex was always the fittest. But he didn’t believe it.
“It was only when Frank Lampard came in and said “I believe in you”. Now you’re starting to see Alex as the specimen he is.”
Morocco stun Brazil in int’l friendly
Morocco stunned Brazil 2-1 in a friendly international on Saturday as the north African side recorded a first ever win over the five-time world champions.
Midfielder Sofiane Boufal, a former Southampton star, but now playing with Al Rayyan in Qatar, gave Morocco the lead after 29 minutes, scoring with a powerful turn and drive from a pass by Bilal El Khannous.
Brazil skipper Casemiro levelled in the 67th minute when his weak shot was fumbled by goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.
But on-loan Sampdoria midfielder Abdelhamid Sabiri struck the winner with a volley in the 79th minute as Morocco showed that becoming the first Arab or African nation to reach the World Cup semi-finals last year was no fluke.
“I wouldn’t say we lacked understanding, it’s about putting into practice the ideas of a new coach,” said Manchester United’s Casemiro.
“I think we played a good game and did everything as far as possible to win.”
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Only 10 of the 23-man squad that took Brazil to a disappointing quarter-final exit at the World Cup made the trip to Morocco for the game.
The injured Neymar was again missing with his number 10 shirt passing to Real Madrid youngster Rodrygo.
Brazil also had a new manager in the dugout with interim coach Ramon Menezes having replaced Tite who stepped down after the World Cup last-eight exit at the hands of Croatia.
The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) hopes to be able to announce the name of its new coach before the start of qualifying for the 2026 World Cup in September.
According to Brazilian media, the CBF’s first choice is Carlo Ancelotti, currently in charge of Real Madrid.
However, he is not expected to make a decision on his future before the end of the European season.
Before kick-off at the Ibn Batouta stadium, both teams paid tribute to Pele, who died last December at the age of 82.
Until Saturday, Morocco had suffered defeats in their only two other meetings with Brazil — 2-0 in a 1997 friendly and 3-0 in the group stages of the 1998 World Cup in France.
It’s a joke to talk about sacking me after Nigeria loss to G’Bissau – Peseiro
Super Eagles coach, Jose Peseiro, says he will not expect the Nigeria Football Federation to sack him after his team lost 0-1 to a lowly rated Guinea-Bissau before their home fans in the country.
He said it would be shocking for the NFF to sack him following the 1-0 defeat in Nigeria on Friday.
The Super Eagles lost in front of their fans in Abeokuta on Friday, thanks to a first-half goal from Mama Balde.
The win took the Djurtus to the top of Group A with seven points, while Peseiro’s men dropped to second.
When asked if he would be surprised to be fired following the loss to Guinea-Bissau, Peseiro replied, “I would be surprised if I’m sacked now.
“In today’s game in the first 30 minutes, we created chances, but the likes of Osimhen, Chukwueze and Ndidi could not score.
“But I believe my team played better than the results reflect.
So for me, it’s a joke to talk about sacking me.”
This is coming as some former football internationals, fans and sport analysts are already calling on the NFF to sack Peseiro after winning only two of seven matches as head coach of the team.
Bayern Munich sack Nagelsmann and appoint Tuchel
Bayern Munich have sacked manager Julian Nagelsmann after less than two years in charge and appointed Thomas Tuchel as his replacement until 2025.
The German side have won the last 10 Bundesliga titles and sit second in the table this season – one point behind leaders Borussia Dortmund.
They beat Paris St-Germain to reach the Champions League quarter-finals, where they will face Manchester City.
Tuchel, 49, was sacked by Premier League club Chelsea in September.
He replaces Nagelsmann on a contract until 30 June 2025 and will take training for the first time on Monday.
Bayern chief executive Oliver Kahn said: “When we signed Julian Nagelsmann in the summer of 2021, we were convinced we would work with him on a long-term basis – and that was the goal of all of us right up to the end.
“But now we have come to the conclusion that the quality in our squad – despite the Bundesliga title last year – has come to the fore less and less often.
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“After the World Cup we have played less successfully and less attractively. The big fluctuations in performance have cast doubt on our goals for this season, but also our goals for the future.
“That is why we have acted now. Personally and on behalf of Bayern, I would like to thank Julian and his coaching team, and wish everyone the best of luck for the future.”
Nagelsmann, 35, joined Bayern after a spell at RB Leipzig and won the league by eight points in his first season in charge, in addition to the German Supercup in 2021 and 2022.
On Sunday his side were beaten 2-1 by Bayer Leverkusen, leaving them with just five wins from their past 10 league games.
Bayern confirmed assistant coaches Dino Toppmoller, Benjamin Gluck and Xaver Zembrod have also left the club.
Tuchel won the Champions League with Chelsea in May 2021 – one of three trophies won in 20 months at Stamford Bridge – and was voted World Coach of the Year following that campaign.
But the German, also formerly of Borussia Dortmund and Paris St-Germain, was sacked on new Chelsea owner Todd Boehly’s 100th day in charge in September, following a 1-0 defeat by Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League.
Bayern’s next game is against league leaders Dortmund on Saturday, 1 April.
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