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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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U-23 Coach Optimistic as Nigeria Tackles Sudan Today

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National U-23 Football Team Head Coach, Imama Amapakabo is optimistic that his players will score the required number of goals to beat Sudan today when they meet in their final Africa U-23 Cup of Nations qualifier at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, Delta State.

Nigeria lost the first leg in Omdurman 1-0 and needs to score at least two goals without conceding any to win the tie.Speaking after his team’s final walk out yesterday, Amapakabo told The Guardian that the lone goal the U-23 team conceded at the Al Merriekh Stadium in Omdurman last week had spurred his boys to work extra hard for today’s game.

The Super Eagles assistant coach said the arrival of some foreign-based players had boosted the team ahead of the game, adding that his wards were not under any going into the game.“The boys are ready for the game and also psychologically fit to interpret the tactics I want them to use against their opponents.

“Getting the right result to book a place in the 2019 Nations Cup in Egypt remains our top target. I am happy that Nigerian football fans will be on ground to give the players total support,” he said.A victory over Sudan will give the Nigerian side the ticket to the Egypt U-23 African Nations Cup to hold from November 8 to 22, where the best two teams will qualify for the 2020 Japan Olympic games.

“We were unlucky to lose the first leg game, but there is no need crying over spilt milk. Tuesday is here and the battle must be won. We are the defending champions and we must be in Egypt to defend our title.”

The Olympic Eagles have been training in Asaba since arriving in the Delta State capital on Sunday, and have been strengthened by the arrival of former FIFA U-17 World Cup–winning captain, Kelechi Nwakali.Nwakali will string things in midfield with Captain Azubuike Okechukwu, with Blessing Muyiwa, Sunusi Ibrahim, Stephen Odey and Taiwo Awoniyi expected to do a better job of putting away opportunities this time.

Goalkeeper Adamu Abubakar pulled a number of huge saves in Omdurman, and is expected to start, with former U17 World Cup winner John Lazarus and Ebube Duru at wingback.The Confederation of African Football has appointed Guinean official, Bangaly Konate as referee for the match, to be assisted by his compatriots Mamady Tere (assistant referee 1), Abdoulaye Sylla (assistant referee 2) and Tawel Younoussa Camara (fourth official). Mr. Luleseged Begashaw Asfaw from Ethiopia will be the match commissioner.

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Zambia Cancel Friendly Match with South over Xenophobic Attack, Eagles Kick

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Nigerian players have taken to the social media to condemn the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and citizens of other countries living in South Africa.

Their reactions came in the wake of recent images and videos that surfaced online showing alleged killings of other countries’ nationals in South Africa.

South Africans commenced fresh attacks, looting and burning of businesses and properties belonging to Nigerians and other nationals and in the process killed three people, according to reports.

The recent killings gained prominence on social media, especially Twitter, with various hashtags such as  #SayNoToXenophobia #XenophobicAttack and #StopXenophobia.

Among the Eagles stars who reacted are Chidozie Awaziem, John Ogu and Victor Osimhen.

While uploading a picture reading “pray for Nigerians in South Africa”, Awaziem posted, “Say no to xenophobia.”

On his part, Ogu described the attack as totally unacceptable, urging Nigerians to pray for their countrymen in South Africa.

“This is totally unaccepted. Say no to xenophobia,” the Super Eagles midfielder tweeted.

“South Africa, it will not be well with you,” Osimhen wrote on his Instagram handle.

Apart from the Super Eagles players who expressed their displeasure, the Football Association of Zambia has reportedly cancelled the international friendly match between its national team and South Africa on Saturday.

However, FAZ President Andrew Kamanga was said to have confirmed that the international friendly was cancelled over xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

“The game is off, and we communicated that to South Africa Football Association and they understood. We have been talking to try and monitor the situation,” he was quoted as saying on Metro FM/Radio 2000 on Tuesday.

The SAFA was said to be organising another friendly match with Madagascar.

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Curtain Draws On 2019 African Games as Nigeria Finishes Second

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After 15 days of intensive competition, the curtain will fall on the 12th African Games tonight in Rabat.

Team Nigeria was conveniently occupying the second spot on the medals table at the close of events on Friday night.

Only two events are yet to be completed.

The position will certainly not change, but there would be additional medals for events not concluded.

Team Nigeria ended Day 15 of the ongoing African Games on a high as its medal haul increased to 126 (46 gold, 33 silver and 47 bronze medals) at the end of proceedings.

Egypt occupied first spot with 102 old medals while South Africa was third with 36 gold medals.

Sade Olatoye was Nigeria’s only individual gold medalist on the last day in athletics as she emerged victorious in the women’s Shot Put. Her first-round attempt of 16.61m was good enough for the gold. It was Olatoye’s second medal of the Games, having won bronze in the Hammer Throw.

In men’s Javelin, Nnamdi Chinecherem won bronze, throwing a distance of 73.24m.

On the track, Divine Oduduru failed to meet the expectations once more as the sprinter once again finished 2nd with a 20.54s clocking in the men’s 200m final.

Nigeria’s other representative, Ogho-Oghene Egwero, was 6th in 21.00s. Zambia’s Sidney Siame won the race with 20.34s.

Nigeria’s only athlete listed to run in the women’s 200m final, Rosemary Chukwuma, did not take part in her race.

In the women’s 400m Hurdles, Abasiono Akpan rallied her way back into contention as she was able to claim bronze for her efforts. She clocked 57.66s.

Nnamdi Chinecherem won bronze in men’s Javelin, throwing a distance of 73.24m. It is his first senior medal, having won gold at the African junior championship in April.

Nigeria women’s 4x400m made up of the quartet of Patience Okon-Geroge, Blessing Oladoye, Kemi Francis and Favour Ofili combined to run a time of 3:30.32s which fetched them gold.

Medals Table
Medals Table

For the men, they settled for bronze in 3:03.42s.

After her earlier heroics, Ayomide Bello showed how good she is in the C1 200m Women Final of Canoeing. She returned a time of 50.51s to win the event. She also teamed up with her compatriot Foloki to win the doubles in the event.

Nigeria on the last day of action in weightlifting got more medals. Obeyi Joseph was the first to clinch the medal as she settled for bronze in the women’s +87kg (245kg), Snatch (105kg) and Clean-Jerk (130kg) classification. In the same vein, Olawale Barde won bronze in the men’s 102kg (343kg), Snatch (158kg) and Clean-Jerk (185kg).

Also, Tijani Abdul secured bronze in the men’s +109kg (323kg), Snatch (180kg) and Clean-Jerk (143kg).

Wrestling

Finally, Nigeria scooped two gold and two silver medals in weightlifting. Daniel Amaas proved too strong for The Gambia’s Mbal Cumba as he edged him 3-1 to win gold in the men’s Freestyle 65kg Finals. Also, Emmanuel John pipped Sami Mustapha 3-1 to claim gold in the men’s Freestyle 74kg final.

Soso Tamurau lost to Egypt’s Hosam Meghany 3-1 to win the men’s Freestyle 97kg final, while Ebikewemimo Wilson was overpowered by Algeria’s Abdelhak Khebache in the men’s Freestyle 57kg final.

On a rather dissaponting note, Nigeria’s wait for a first gold medal since 1973 in the men’s football event continues as the Flying Eagles, who represented the country, lost to Burkina Faso 2-0 in the final.

Nigeria also finished second at the last edition of African Games in Congo Brazzaville albeit with 47 gold medals.

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