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Rohr’s job not on the line – Pinnick

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  • He remains one of Nigeria’s worst coaches, says Aiyegbeni

The Nigeria Football Federation says there is no immediate plan to sack Coach Gernot Rohr despite the poor outings of the Super Eagles in recent matches.

Former Nigeria international Yakubu Aiyegbeni has labeled Gernot Rohr as one of the ‘worst coaches’ in Super Eagles history and questioned some of the credentials of the current crop of players.

In the recent Africa Cup of Nations’ qualifiers, Nigeria squandered a four-goal lead in a 4-4 draw at home to Sierra Leone and later played a 0-0 stalemate in the reverse fixture away to the Leone Stars in Freetown.

Nigeria still tops Group L despite the results in the qualification for Cameroon 2022.

NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, said notwithstanding the pressure on the football house, Rohr would not be sacked.

His reaction followed Sports Minister Sunday Dare’s social media comment questioning the ‘suitability and competence’ of the coach on the back of the 0-0 draw in the reverse fixture.

“Nobody is happy about what happened against Sierra Leone in both matches,” Pinnick told BBC Sport Africa

“But it is not enough to sack the coach because his team is still top of the Nations Cup group after four matches.

“His statistics speak volume for him. So, on what indexes do we want to sack him considering the contract recently signed by both parties?

“No matter how emotional and disappointed the fans are, there’s no basis to sack him now and he deserves to keep his job.”

Rohr, 67, was appointed coach of the three-time African champions in August 2016 and led them to a third place finish at the 2019 African Cup of Nations – after the team had missed back to back tournaments in 2015 and 2017.

But he has faced criticism over tactics and choice of players from the local media, former players and disappointed fans.

However, Pinnick backed the German to lead the West African nation to the delayed continental showpiece event in 2022 and the World Cup in Qatar same year, as agreed in his recently extended two-year contract.

“When you look at his performance, where he has won 29 matches, drew 14 and lost 10, you can say that is enough to back him,” said Pinnick.

“Yes, the performance in the last two games has not gone down well with some people, but we need to be professional, honest and respectful in how we analyse things.”

But Aiyegbeni believes Rohr is unfit for the hot-seat and has backed the call to relinquish him of the job.

He said, “The coach is not good enough, let him go,” said Aiyegbeni on Lagos Talks as reported by Goal.com.

He added, “Some of the boys are not good enough, I don’t know where they are bringing them from. Who is inviting these players?”

The former Blackburn Rovers, Everton, Middlesbrough, Leicester City and Portsmouth forward also said, “Our football is getting worse every day. When I was there, people criticised us, but we’re way better than these ones.

“The coach is not good enough, no clue. Gernot Rohr is one of the worst coaches in our history. He is not good enough.”

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Chelsea set to give Osimhen seven-year contract

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Chelsea set to give Osimhen seven-year contract

Victor Osimhen is fully focused on joining Chelsea even though Mauricio Pochettino has left his role as manager, while the Blues are well ahead of Paris Saint-Germain and Saudi clubs in the race for the striker.

After months of speculation about his future, Pochettino left Stamford Bridge by mutual consent on Tuesday night. Pochettino feels he has left Chelsea in a good position to improve next season, while Blues chiefs want a new manager to come in and take the side to the next level.

While Pochettino could replace Erik ten Hag at Manchester United, Chelsea are eyeing up Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna – coincidentally a former Man Utd coach – to fill their vacant Stamford Bridge hot seat.

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Despite Pochettino’s departure, some of Chelsea’s transfer plans are unlikely to change.

First of all, club officials know they need to make a huge investment to strengthen the attack, and the main target remains Victor Osimhen.

The Nigerian striker – whose release clause is €130m (£111m) – will leave Napoli in the summer and he desires to play in the Premier League next year, wearing a Chelsea shirt.

Sources have confirmed to TEAMtalk that Osimhen has already given his informal approval for a possible move to the Blues. Only some aspects of his prospective seven-year contract with Chelsea need to be discussed. Chelsea are willing to pay the centre-forward slightly more than what he earns at Napoli.

Chelsea set to give Osimhen seven-year contract

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Barcelona sack Xavi with flick set to replace him

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Xavi Hernandez

Barcelona sack Xavi with flick set to replace him

Xavi will take charge of Barcelona for the final time on Sunday, when they host Sevilla in their last La Liga match of the season.

The 44-year-old, who had been contracted until 2025, was informed of the club’s decision during a meeting with club president Joan Laporta and sporting director Deco on Friday – exactly one month since it was announced that he would remain at the club.

Former Spain midfielder Xavi said in January that he was going leave the Camp Nou, but he was persuaded to stay by Laporta in April.

But recent comments from Xavi, in which he opened up about the club’s financial struggles, are said to have angered Laporta.

Barcelona said they would like to “thank Xavi for his work as a coach” since taking charge in 2021.

“It is never easy to leave the club of your life, but I am very proud after two and a half years at the head of a dressing room that has been like a second family,” said Xavi in an open letter issued on social media.

“From Sunday I will be just one more Barca fan, in the stands.

“Because before being a player or a coach I am a Barcelona fan and I only want the best for the club in my life, which will always have me at its disposal.”

The Catalan club said a “new structure” will be confirmed in the coming days, with Flick set to take charge.

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The 59-year-old has been out of work since he was sacked by Germany in September 2023.

Flick, who replaced Joachim Low as national boss in 2021, became the first Germany manager to be sacked since the role was created in 1926, winning just 12 of his 25 matches in charge.

Flick’s stint with Germany came after he guided Bayern Munich to a treble in 2020, winning the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League.

Barcelona forward Robert Lewandowski, 35, played under Flick at the Allianz Arena for two seasons.

After guiding Barcelona to the La Liga title in 2022-23, Xavi’s side put up a disappointing defence to their crown this term.

The Catalans are 12 points behind rivals Real Madrid, with one game remaining in the season.

Barcelona were knocked out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage by Paris St-Germain.

Xavi spent 17 years with Barcelona as a player, having emerged from the club’s La Masia academy.

After four years’ playing for Qatari side Al-Sadd, Xavi retired in 2019 to take over the side as manager.

He remained in Qatar for a further two seasons, before replacing Ronald Koeman in November 2021 as Barcelona boss.

Xavi helped the club to the La Liga title and Spanish Cup during his first full season in charge, earning the side a return to the Champions League.

Sevilla boss Quique Sanchez Flores has criticised Barcelona’s treatment of Xavi.

“I shouldn’t say this, but how badly Barcelona treats its legends. What a bad streak,” Flores told reporters on Friday afternoon.

“With Koeman, with Messi, with Xavi now – how bad. I wish clubs treated their legends well. That would be fantastic. Xavi is a legend of the club.”

Flores added he had “doubts the criticism about him [Xavi] is correct”.

Barcelona will finish the season second in LaLiga behind champions Real Madrid and Xavi will remain in charge for the game at Sevilla.

During his 141 games as Barcelona boss, Xavi won 89 matches – giving him a 63% win ratio.

Barcelona sack Xavi with flick set to replace him

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Lookman scores stunning hat-trick in Atalanta vs Leverkusen Europa League final

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Ademola Lookman

Lookman scores stunning hat-trick in Atalanta vs Leverkusen Europa League final

Ademola Lookman was the star of the night as his hat-trick ended Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten run and secured Atalanta’s first European Cup title.

Lookman’s three goals marked the first hat-trick in a European final in 49 years, delivering Atalanta their first-ever continental trophy.

The club from Bergamo, often overshadowed by AC and Inter Milan, has enjoyed a resurgence under Gian Piero Gasperini. This victory adds silverware to their impressive record, which includes four Champions League appearances in recent years.

Leverkusen, known for their late comebacks during their undefeated Bundesliga campaign, couldn’t recover from a slow start this time. Atalanta’s aggressive play was rewarded early when Davide Zappacosta set up Lookman, who exploited Exequiel Palacios’ lapse to score from the back post after just 12 minutes.

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Lookman, whose career has seen him move from the lower ranks of the Premier League to finding stability in Bergamo, cemented his hero status with his performance. His second goal, a brilliant nutmeg of Granit Xhaka followed by a powerful shot into the far corner, showcased his skill.

Despite Leverkusen’s efforts, including near-misses by Alex Grimaldo and Jeremie Frimpong, they couldn’t break through Atalanta’s defense. Gianluca Scamacca’s fortunate escape with only a yellow card for a rough tackle on Florian Wirtz also highlighted Leverkusen’s missed opportunities.

Coach Xabi Alonso, having quickly risen as a top coaching prospect and choosing to stay with Leverkusen despite interest from Liverpool and Bayern Munich, made tactical changes at halftime, including bringing on Victor Boniface. However, the early damage proved insurmountable.

Atalanta, content to absorb pressure and counter-attack, sealed the win with another stunning goal from Lookman. Skipping past Edmond Tapsoba, he blasted into the top corner with his left foot, clinching the victory.

This triumph is particularly sweet for Atalanta, who had previously lost all three finals under Gasperini, including a recent Coppa Italia defeat to Juventus. Their passionate fans, clad in blue and black, celebrated their historic win in Dublin.

Atalanta’s victory also marks the first time an Italian side has won the competition since Parma lifted the UEFA Cup in 1999, ending a long wait and underscoring the club’s remarkable journey to European glory.

Lookman scores stunning hat-trick in Atalanta vs Leverkusen Europa League final

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