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Solskjaer Aims to Replicate Spirit of ’99 at Manchester United

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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.”

(AFP)

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Joshua, Pulev Bout Set for May in Turkey

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The International Boxing Federation heavyweight clash between Anthony Joshua and Bulgarian boxer Kubrat Pulev will hold in Istanbul, Turkey in May.

The date and venue of the fight were confirmed on Pulev’s official Facebook page.

Pulev, 38 posted a link to an article that appears to claim that the much-anticipated fight will take place at the  Vodafone Arena – home of Turkish football club Besiktas.

The pair are due to fight this year, with Pulev the mandatory challenger for Joshua’s IBF heavyweight title.

But according to SunSport while talks are ongoing, any clash between the two boxers will only take place in either the United Kingdom, United States or Saudi Arabia.

No word though has come from Joshua’s camp today regarding the fight.

Both boxers had been due to clash at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium back in October 2017, but Pulev had to pull out with injury and was replaced by Carlos Takam.

Joshua is thought to be keen to return to London for his next fight.

And it was revealed last month that the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium had emerged as a very real contender to host the bout.

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I’m Not Buying Arsenal Right Now, Says Dangote

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Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote has again renewed his bid to acquire English Premier League side Arsenal when he is done with his present projects.

Dangote, who was speaking in a chat on David Rubenstein Show on Bloomberg, said he intended to take Arsenal to the next level.

The billionaire, who is presently constructing a refinery in Lekki, Lagos State, is aiming to buy the North London side in 2011.

“It is a team that, yes, I would like to buy someday, but what I keep saying is we have $20bn worth of projects and that’s what I really want to concentrate on,” Dangote said.

“I’m trying to finish building the company and then after we finish, maybe sometime in 2021 we can.

“I’m not buying Arsenal right now; I’m buying Arsenal when I finish all these projects because I’m trying to take the company to the next level.”

Dangote had first declared his intention to buy Arsenal in 2015.

Arsenal is presently owned by American billionaire Stan Kroenke.

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Sadio Mane Beats Salah, Mahrez to Emerge African Footballer of the Year

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Senegalese forward Sadio Mane has won the 2019 CAF African Player of the Year award.

He beats Liverpool’s teammate Mohammed Salah and Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez to win the award at the annual awards ceremony staged in Hurghada on Tuesday.

Mane has been a finalist in the previous three editions of the CAF Player of the Year, but in all those instances, he never went back home with the coveted piece of silverware.

Mane was Senegal’s main man at the 2019 AFCON where he netted three goals on the Teranga Lions’ path to the final where they lost by a solitary goal to Algeria.

He netted a brace in the 3-0 group phase victory over Kenya and added one more in the round of 16 1-0 win over Uganda.

He was also a vital part of the team as they beat Benin and Tunisia in the quarters and semis respectively, his influence playing a big role in Senegal’s run to the final.

For his club Liverpool, Mane was just as sensational as he was for Senegal as he played another crucial role aiding them to the UEFA Champions League title for the first time since 2005.

The forward scored crucial goals, key among them a double over Bayern Munich in a 3-1 victory in the round of 16 and once in the aggregate 6-1 win over Porto in the quarter-finals as the Reds steamrolled into the final and ultimately bag the Champions League title.

In the English Premier League, Mane shared the Golden Boot crown with Salah and Arsenal’s Gabonese front-man Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, all three having netted 22 times for their respective clubs. On top of that, Mane scored 39 goals across all competitions for Liverpool in the 2018-2019 season.

The forward kept his form into the new campaign and in the season-opening UEFA Super Cup, Mane scored twice in a 2-2 draw with Chelsea, a game they ultimately won 5-4 on penalties to pick up yet another trophy.

At the just concluded FIFA Club World Cup in Doha, Qatar, Mane laid up the assist for Roberto Firmino’s winning goal in the final against Flamengo.

The Senegalese hitman was also in the top five for the Ballon d’Or, a crown ultimately won by Argentine wizard Lionel Messi.

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