Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hopes to replicate the spirit of Manchester United’s treble-winners at Old Trafford as he plots a route back to the top for the club.
Solskjaer, last month appointed as the permanent United boss, famously scored the injury-time winner in the Champions League final when Alex Ferguson’s United side won three trophies in 1999.
The Norwegian, preparing his side to face Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at home on Wednesday, intends to build the side around the principles that worked so well 20 years ago.
“We challenged each other every day in training,” he told ESPN. “There were fights and there was an inner justice that I’ve not seen in too many teams.
“We never, ever accepted anyone being below par in training. We kicked each other and we had to win every single day. That moved over into games and we never gave in. There was an unbelievable team spirit.
“I want my players to really push each other and demand 100 per cent attitude from each other every single day. That’s the only way you can improve and it’s the only way you can win.
“We had something special. It’s a different group now and the challenge is, ‘How can I make these players winners as we were?’”
United are currently sixth in the Premier League but are just three points behind third-placed Tottenham and are still in contention in the Champions League.
United are the underdogs for the Barcelona tie but Solskjaer, who oversaw a stunning comeback victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the last round, is confident.
“We’re playing against a good team but there is something special about this group of players,” he said. “It will be fantastic.”
And the United boss is not worried that Manchester City could surpass United’s achievement in 1999 by winning a quadruple this season.
“United fans want us to win it (the Champions League) because they want to win it,” Solskjaer said. “I think we should look at what we can achieve and not what we can stop others achieving.”
U23 Eagles Beat Zambia, Revive Olympics Hope
Nigeria defeated Zambia 3 – 1 in their Group B match day two of the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday at the Al Salam Stadium, Cairo, Egypt.
Patson Daka put Zambia ahead in the 12th minute before Orji Okonkwo’s 16th minute equaliser.
A superb free-kick by Kelechi Nwakali gave Nigeria the lead in the 65th minute and Taiwo Awoniyi scored the third goal in additional time.
After the win on Tuesday, Nigeria now place second in Group B with three points.
The U-23 side lost their opening match to Ivory Coast 1 – 0 on Saturday.
South Africa now top Group B with four points after securing a draw against Zambia and defeating Ivory Coast 1-0.
Teboho Mokoena scored a brilliant curling free-kick on Tuesday to break the deadlock eleven minutes from time to raise his side’s tally to four points, one more than the Ivorian Elephants.
The Elephants place third with three points and zero goal difference.
Enyimba, Rangers Through to CAF Confederation Cup Group Stage
Nigeria’s representatives in the CAF Confederation Cup, Enyimba of Aba and Enugu Rangers yesterday defeated TS Galaxy of South Africa and ASC Kara of Togo respectively to qualify for the group stage of the competition.
Enyimba won the first leg of their tie in Aba 2-0, while Rangers lost to Togo’s ASC Kara 1-2 in the first leg.
Yesterday at the Mbombela Stadium, Enyimba showed their superiority over the home team as they raced to a 2-0 goal before TS Galaxy reduced the tally by one late into the game.
The game ended 4-1 on aggregate to Enyimba in the play-off round.
TS Galaxy, which surprised South African football followers by winning the 2018/2019 Nedbank Cup, had enjoyed a good record at home in the Confederation Cup this season, having registered two wins without conceding against the likes of St Louis Suns and CNaPS Sport.
But against Enyimba, they found it tough and had to wait until the 30th minute for an opening as Tshepo Chaine fired wide from close range. And that proved to be the home team’s only real effort of the first half before Enyimba began to choke them.
Enyimba got the opening goal in the 76th minute through Daniel Darkwah, while Martins Usule made it 2-0 a few minutes later.
Galaxy pulled a goal back in the dying minutes through Terrence Mashego, but it was nothing more than a consolation as Enyimba triumphed 2-1 on the day and 4-1 on aggregate to secure a spot in the group stages.
In Enugu, Rangers needed a 1-0 win to secure their passage to the group stage having lost the first leg 2-1. But it was not so easy as the Togolese outfit fought to stay in the competition.
However, Chinonso Eziekwe settled the tie in the 18th minute when the converted Nnamdi Egbujuo’s defense splitting cross to make hay and send the crowd into wild jubilations.
Speaking after the game, Rangers’ Coach, Benedict Ugwu said, “It was a good match and we thank God for the win that has taken us to the group stage of the competition.
“Our plan was not to concede and my players did well to contain them especially in the second half. Yes, we are going into a tougher stage of the competition but I have the confidence that we shall continue to make good representation for the country.”
Arsenal Bow to Liverpool on Penalties after 10 Goals Thriller
Liverpool FC took the shine off Arsenal as they become winners in the Carabao cup Round of 16 played at the Anfield.
Arsenal woes started much early as the team conceded an own goal in the sixth minute through Mustafi. However, the team rose to the task and led 5 – 4 into the extra time before Ongi equalized in the 94th minute.
While Liverpool came round to score all their five kicks during the penalty shootout, Arsenal could only manage four correct kicks.
The Reds therefore, advanced into the quarter final of the tournament.