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NFF Says Ex-Eagles Coach, Chukwu is in Stable Condition

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Nigeria legend Christian Chukwu is in good health and of sound spirit, says Chairman of the Enugu State FA and Member of the NFF Executive Committee, Chidi Okenwa.

Following outcry at the weekend over the true state of health of Nigeria’s 1980 AFCON-winning team captain, President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, mandated Okenwa to pay a visit to Chukwu and avail him of the correct state of things.

Speaking to thenff.com on Monday evening following his visit to the former defender, Okenwa said Chukwu was in a very stable condition and adequately taken care of in a medical facility in Enugu State.

He said, “In all sincerity, I never knew this kind of hospital existed anywhere east of the Niger. It is a world-class facility with highly qualified medical doctors and nurses. I met ‘Chairman’ in a very stable condition. I met a Christian Chukwu that talks and eats normally and is of sound mind and spirit.

“I want to express appreciation to the management of Enugu Rangers and the Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, for the prompt attention given to Chukwu’s medical issue. I also want to thank the NFF president for his quick reaction after reading about the health issue.”

Okenwa, who is also the Chairman of the Nigeria National League, added, “I want to assure Nigerians from all walks of life that their former captain, their legend, Christian Chukwu, is in good condition and in good hands. I am assured by the doctors that there is no cause for alarm, and that if there is any need to fly him abroad for further checks, they would promptly so counsel.”

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Zidane Wants Messi to Stay in Spain Despite Barcelona Exit Claims

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Lionel Messi was reported on Thursday to be planning to leave Barcelona in 2021, but Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane was hoping the Argentine maestro will stay in Spain.

Messi’s current contract expires next year and he has halted negotiations due to frustrations with the direction of the club, said Spanish radio station Cadena Ser.

Barca sits second in La Liga with five games left, four points behind Real Madrid, who edged past Getafe 1-0 on Thursday to put the title within their grasp.

“I don’t know what will happen but we hope not because he is in this league and we want the best in this league,” said Real coach Zidane afterwards, when asked about the possibility of Messi leaving.

Messi said in February he did not believe Barcelona could win the Champions League on current form.

The 33-year-old has also had disagreements with the board, reacting publicly when sporting director Eric Abidal appeared to blame the players for the sacking of Ernesto Valverde in January.

Barcelona’s presidential elections are due to be held in 2021 when current president Josep Maria Bartomeu will have to step aside.

Among those set to run against Bartomeu’s successor is Victor Font, who wants to appoint Messi’s former team-mate Xavi Hernandez as a coach.

(AFP)

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COVID-19: CAF Cancels 2021 AFCON, AWCON, Others

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The Confederation of African Football has shifted the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations to 2022 as a result of COVID-19.

CAF made the announcement after its Executive Committee meeting, which was held via video conference on Tuesday.

The competition was slated to take place in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6, 2021.

“After consultation with stakeholders and taking into consideration the current global situation, the tournament (2021 AFCON) has been rescheduled for January 2022. The date for the final tournament and the remaining matches of the qualifiers will be communicated in due course,” CAF said in a statement.

CAF also announced that the 2020 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations slated for November 23 to December 20 had been cancelled.

Another major decision taken at the CAF meeting was the cancellation of the 2020 CAF Awards.

The football body also moved the 2020 African Nations Championship for home-based players, which was also set to be hosted by Cameroon, to January 2021.

Other decisions taken by CAF include the resumption of the Champions League and the Confederation’s Cup in September, with the ‘final four format.’ The semi-final games for both competitions would now be played over a single leg, with winners qualifying for the final.

The venue for the Champions League final is yet to be decided, while the Confederation’s Cup final four would take place in Morocco.

CAF also announced the introduction of the Women’s Champions League, which will be launched in 2021.

The U-17 and U-20 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers will be on a zonal basis, while the U-17 AFCON takes place in July 2021.

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Osimhen Wins Best African Player Award in French Ligue 1

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Lille Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen has been named winner of the Marc-Vivien Foe Award presented to the best African player in the French Ligue 1.

The award is under the auspices of RFI English-France 24 English.

Osimhen is the youngest-ever winner of the award at 21, and emerged tops in a poll of about 100 football experts across the media to succeed former Lille man Nicolas Pepe, the Ivory Coast international who joined Arsenal last summer from Lille.

Algeria striker Islam Slimani, who spent last season on loan at Monaco, came second with Reims’ Morocco international defender Yunis Abdelhamid third.

Eagles winger Moses Simon of FC Nantes finished 11th in the voting.

Osimhen’s 13 league goals (18 goals in 38 games in all competitions) in his maiden season in France helped Lille finish fourth in Ligue 1, and he also made a significant impact in the UEFA Champions League, where he scored twice in six games.

The 21-year-old is also the leading scorer in the 2021 AFCON qualifiers with three goals.

He has been linked with a big-money move away from Lille.

Osimhen has already scooped the Best Player of the Season at his club.

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