Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe reacts as Manchester City players celebrate after winning the UEFA Champions League first-leg semi-final football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Manchester City at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. (Photo credit- AFP)
Manchester City took a big step towards their first Champions League final as goals by Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez earned them a 2-1 comeback win at Paris St Germain in the semi-final first leg on Wednesday.
PSG went ahead courtesy of a Marquinhos header in the first half, but Mauricio Pochettino’s side lost control after the break with De Bruyne and Mahrez finding the back of the net in the space of eight minutes to secure City’s 18th consecutive away win in all competitions.
Last year’s runners-up PSG then found themselves with a higher mountain to climb as midfielder Idrissa Gueye picked up a straight red card in the 77th minute for a reckless challenge on Ilkay Gundogan.
“The second half was much better, the way the first goal went in was a little bit lucky but we played great football in the second half, we did well,” De Bruyne said.
The French champions will need to show next Tuesday the same away form that enabled them to beat Barcelona at the Camp Nou and Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in previous rounds if they are to progress.
“At halftime, I told the players we needed to be ourselves. We needed to be more aggressive and we didn’t let them breathe after the break,” City manager Pep Guardiola said.
Team Nigeria Set For Ranking Series Tournament In Poland
As part of preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, five Nigerian wrestlers – who have all qualified for the delayed Games in Japan – are set to depart the country on Monday, 7 June, 2021, for a Ranking Series tournament in Warsaw tagged Poland Open.
Reigning Commonwealth champions Odunayo Adekuoroye (57kg), Aminat Adeniyi (62kg) and Blessing Oborududu (68kg) as well as youngster Adijat Idris (50kg) will be competing in Women’s Wrestling, while Ekerekeme Agiomor (86kg) is Nigeria’s sole representative in the Freestyle event .
At the Poland Open, which runs from 8 – 13 June, the wrestlers will be vying for crucial ranking points to enhance their global rating and the prize monies at stake.
From the schedule made available by the organisers, 2018 African champion Agiomor will be in action in the 86kg weight class on the opening day of competition on Tuesday, while Adeniyi (62kg) and Idris (50kg) will take to the mat two days later.
Former World No. 1 Adekuoroye and 10-time African champion Oborududu are scheduled to wrestle on Friday in the 57kg and 68kg classes respectively.
At the Poland Open, the wrestlers will be competing under the watchful eyes of coach Purity Akuh and Joe Oziti.
The delegation will be led by the Chairman, Caretaker Committee of the Nigeria Wrestling Federation Daniel Igali, with the secretary of the Committee Patrick Abodi also part of the traveling contingent.
Pinnick’s Position In FIFA Beneficial To Africa’s Football Devt
President Muhamamdu Buhari on Friday in Abuja expressed optimism that the membership of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president, Amaju Pinnick, into the FIFA Council ‘‘will provide benefits that will lead to the advancement of football in Africa and Nigeria.’’
In an audience with the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare and Pinnick, the President, once again, in a statement by his media aide, Femi Adesina, congratulated the NFF boss on his election victory into the strategic body that sets the vision for global football, assuring him of Nigeria’s support in his new position.
‘‘The position on the Council of the world’s football governing body, FIFA, comes at a time when Nigeria is determined to turn the fortunes of her sports development around through better infrastructure, more investment both public and private government incentives.
“Without prejudice to the continental nature of your assignment at the Council, I urge you to use your position to ensure Nigeria’s sporting image receives a boost.
‘‘I know this position will assist Nigeria get technical and financial support from FIFA; and your position should create a platform for other Nigerians to enter into the FIFA family and other international Sports Federations,’’ he said.
Emphasising his belief in the potential of sports to promote peace, unity, enhance good health and stimulate the economy, President Buhari said ‘‘one of the greatest sports is football and Nigeria is a great football nation. I am myself a keen follower of football.’’
On his vision for Nigerian football, the President told the Minister and the NFF President: ‘‘I want to see Nigeria’s football develop and move in a more dynamic trajectory from football administration to youth and grassroots football, talent hunt and use of Nigeria’s home based talents.
‘‘Nigeria also needs a more privatized and better organised football regime that can rival others in Europe and America.’’
The President, therefore, urged the NFF to work with the Sport ministry and football stakeholders to provide Nigeria with a 10-year Football Master Plan that will ensure youth football development, in line with FIFA’s commitment.
Urging corporate organisations to invest in sports development, the President pledged his administration’s commitment to turn sports into business, adding that the expected reviewed Sport Industry Policy ‘‘will be the catalyst that turns football activities associated with it into key contributors to the national economy.’’
In his remarks, Dare thanked the President for his support for sports development in the country, and for approving the reclassification of sports as business, instead of mere recreation.
He promised that a new draft policy on the sports industry was almost ready, as well as a 10-year master plan for football at all levels.
The new FIFA Council member, Pinnick, equally lauded President Buhari for his support for football, saying: ‘‘Without you, I couldn’t have won election into FIFA Council. Your name is highly respected across the continent.”
Pinnick pledged to be a worthy Ambassador of the country, adding ‘‘I will use the office to build Nigerian football, in conjunction with the Ministry of Youth and Sports.”
FIFA postpones June World Cup Qualifiers in Africa
FIFA confirmed on Thursday that the 2022 World Cup qualifiers scheduled for Africa during June have been postponed until September due to the coronavirus and stadiums not meeting internatonal standards.
There will now be double matchdays in September, October and November with the 10 group winners advancing to the final round next March.
Africa has been allocated five places at the 32-nation tournament in Qatar, which has been moved from its traditional mid-year setting to November and December because of extreme summer heat.
Had two matchdays been staged in June, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Niger, Senegal and Sierra Leone would not have been able to stage qualifiers.
The main stadiums in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya and Uganda were also ruled out, but they had alternate venues capable of hosting internationals.
Recently elected Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Patrice Motsepe from South Africa has prioritised improving poor facilities and pitches at many national stadiums.
UEFA approves five substitutes rule for Euro 2020
The European football’s governing body, UEFA says five substitutes will be allowed at this summer’s Euro 2020, as football continues to grapple with the Coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, UEFA said the decision to allow five subs at the delayed tournament had been taken as “the rule is already in place for the World Cup qualification matches that will run from March 2021 to March 2022.”
“The reasons for the five-substitutions rule remain valid against the background of national and international football calendars affected by the Covid-19 pandemic,” the statement continued.
UEFA added that the rule would also be in place for the Nations League finals in October and its relegation “play-outs” in March next year.
The move to increase the number of substitutes from three to five has already been implemented in the Champions League and Europa League, as well as domestic competitions around the continent.
It came about due to the tight scheduling of the 2020/21 season in Europe, which kicked off late as a result of the pandemic which forced a months-long shutdown of the previous campaign.
Nigeria beats Lesotho 3-0 in AFCON qualifier
The Super Eagles of Nigeria has devoured the Crocodiles of Lesotho 3-0 in their final AFCON 2022 qualifying match at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos.
Victor Osimhen opened Nigeria’s goals account for the day in the 23rd minute before turning into the provider in the 50th minute for Oghenekaro Etebo to make it 2-0.
Second-half substitute, Paul Onuachu, who took the place of Osimhen, then wrapped up the scoring with a sumptuous volley on 83 minutes to hand the Super Eagles a comfortable win on the occasion of their first competitive match in Lagos in 20 years.
The Crocodiles were denied what appeared to be a goal after a fortuitous rebound from a well-struck rebound.
However, the assistant referee’s flag wrongly went up for offside and the goal was disallowed. That was the only notable attack from the southern Africans.
For many of the players, it was the first time in a long while that they would be playing football in a stadium with that many spectators, as a few thousand fans were allowed into the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
While for fans who trouped into the match venue, especially those old enough to recall matches involving the national team at the derelict but still imposing National Stadium, it was a performance close to what they would have expected from the Nigerian team of that long-ago era when visiting teams dreaded playing before Lagos fans.
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