Sport

Akeem ReachnaijaMay 26, 2019
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Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar arrived at Brazil’s national team headquarters near Rio de Janeiro on Saturday as the South American country begins its preparations for next month’s Copa America tournament.

The 27 year old winger was seen arriving by a black Eurocopter EC130B4 helicopter with his initials “NJR” (for Neymar Junior) at Brazil’s training centre in Granja Comary, Rio de Janeiro. The other eight players – who have been training for the past six days – had come by car.

The former FC Barcelona star returned to action in April after spending three months on the sidelines with a metatarsal injury.

He has scored 60 goals in 96 appearances for Brazil so far and is 17 goals behind Pele in the list of Brazil’s all-time record goalscorers.

Brazil will play two friendlies against Qatar and Honduras before the Copa America tournament next month.

 




Akeem ReachnaijaMay 26, 2019
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Liverpool forward Sadio Mane has been nominated for PFA Fans’ Player of the Year award.

The 27-year-old enjoyed an impressive 2018/19 season with the Reds, scoring 26 goals across all competitions, including his 22 in the Premier League which saw him emerge as the joint-winner of the Golden Boot.

His form helped Jurgen Klopp’s men finish the season as runners-up behind champions Manchester City as well as qualify for the Champions League final, where they will take on Tottenham Hotspur on June 1.


Akeem ReachnaijaMay 26, 2019
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Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita has been included in Guinea’s preliminary squad for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations despite lingering concerns regarding his fitness.

Liverpool initially suggested that Keita would be sidelined for up to two months.

Guinea were quick to refute that diagnosis, with it claimed that the Reds had made a “hasty and pretentious call”.

They have remained adamant that a key part of their plans will be fit enough to link up with his country.

That confidence has been taken a step further by head coach Paul Put, with Keita included in a 25-man party ahead of a continental tournament in Egypt.

In his latest update, Klopp admitted that positive progress was being made in a rehabilitation programme.

He did, however, stop short of ruling Keita into his plans for a Champions League final clash with Tottenham on June 1, telling Liverpool’s official website: “Naby is, I would say, a bit ahead of schedule, but that doesn’t mean anything for the final.

“He is now doing straight runs and all of that stuff, he feels comfortable with 50 per cent intensity and these things – but there is still a way to go.

“I know about the issues with Guinea and stuff like that; we don’t want to keep a player out if he can play – maybe they think it is like this, but it is not like this.

“For me, it would be good if Naby would be 100 per cent fit and could play the Africa Cup of Nations, to be 100 per cent honest. But we don’t know, we will see, and we need to work together with their medical department because in the end, a player who is fit – from my point of view – who can play, should play for his country.

“If he is not 100 per cent fit, he cannot play. That’s how it is. It is not important whether you play for your country or your club. That’s what we try to make sure. It looks good, very positive and we will see if there is a chance.”


Akeem ReachnaijaMay 26, 2019
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Mauricio Pochettino has refused to be drawn on speculation suggesting that Gareth Bale could be heading back to Tottenham from Real Madrid.

The Wales international’s future in Spain continues to be called into question.

He has fallen out of favour under Zinedine Zidane, who is likely to add to his attacking options in the summer, with Eden Hazard likely to make the switch to the Bernabeu.

Quizzed by El Chiringuito TV on links to a man who previously spent six years in north London between 2007 and 2013, the Argentine coach said: “He’s a Real Madrid player.

“But we have a good relationship. We played against him last year. I have good references about him.

“Everyone has a fond memory of him here, just like they do at Southampton.

“He still has three years on his contract at Madrid. It’s a situation that isn’t easy for him and isn’t easy for the club.”


Akeem ReachnaijaMay 26, 2019
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Harry Wilson would be willing to consider a move from Liverpool to Derby if promotion to the Premier League can be secured, but he is also aware of an apparent £25 million ($32m) asking price.

The 22-year-old has spent the 2018-19 campaign on loan at the Rams.

The Wales international has seen his stock rise on the back of those efforts, with his parent club at Anfield reported to have put a sizeable valuation on his head.

“I’ve seen a lot of reports,” Wilson told Derbyshire Live.

“I’m on social media and I saw the story break the other day.

“But I’m just concentrating on the final on Monday. I think it would be stupid of me to be thinking about anything else, because I know what a special thing we can achieve.

“So that’s got my full focus and in the summer, that’s when we’ll sit down and talk about my future.”

He added: “There’s a loan guy, Jules [Julian Ward] that I keep in regular contact with, and he comes to some of the games.

“I speak to him and he feeds back to the manager at Liverpool [Jurgen Klopp].

“So I’m in regular contact but my full focus is on Monday.”

If Wilson can help Derby to return to the top tier, then it could be that a permanent transfer is discussed over the summer.

“Obviously, every player wants to play at the top level – and the Premier League is the best league in the world,” he said.


Akeem ReachnaijaMay 26, 2019
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The Nigeria women’s team captain Desire Oparanozie believes it is about time the country broke their record at the Women’s World Cup.

The Super Falcons won a record ninth African Women’s Cup of Nations title in Ghana in 2018 and qualified to make their eighth successive appearance in France.

On the global stage, the African queens have never gone past the quarter-final stage in their previous seven outings and failed to advance from the group stage in their recent four campaigns.

In spite of these setbacks, the Guingampforward believes her side have enough quality and adequate preparation to challenge for glory this time.

“I will say I’m highly honoured to be made the captain of the Super Falcons,” Oparanozie was quoted by Sporting Life.

“It’s a responsibility that I hope to do my best to ensure that we excel at the World Cup. Over the years, the truth is that we have not had good preparation before going to the World Cup, but this year, the story has changed.

“We have never had it this good in terms of preparations. There are lots of things to be done better but the NFF has done really well to prepare us for the World Cup.

“To whom much is given, much is expected. I know Nigerians are hopefully looking up to us. Everyone thinks we have dominated football in Africa for a long time and it is time we make a statement at the Women’s World Cup.

“We have the quality and we have one of the best coaches in women’s football and I think this is the time to go past our previous record.”


Akeem ReachnaijaMay 26, 2019
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Victor Moses has intensified the speculation that he will reunite with Antonio Conte at Italian Serie A side Inter Milan next season after confirming he will leave Fenerbahce.

Conte is expected to be confirmed as manager of the Nerazzurri next week and is believed to have the former Nigeria international on his wishlist.

Despite relishing his time with the Yellow Canaries, he has announced his impending departure from the side.

“I had a very enjoyable experience, but I won’t be here next season,” Moses was quoted by Football Italia.

“I am leaving Fenerbahce. I want a new adventure in my career.”


Akeem ReachnaijaMay 26, 2019
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In an open letter published on the club’s official website ahead of his final outing against Parma on Sunday, De Rossi said: “Please, let me say thank you to everyone at Roma that I came to know:

“The Sensi family, and President Pallotta.

“All the women and men that have worked, and continue to work, at Trigoria.

“The coaches that shaped me; all of them – without exception – taught me something important.

“The medical staff that always took care of me; and Damiano, without whom I would certainly have made fewer appearances for this club.

“My teammates, the part of the job I always enjoyed the most – they are my family. That daily routine, those times in the changing room at Trigoria, will be the thing I miss most of all.

“Bruno, who saw something special in me and brought me into this club’s fantastic academy. It was there, one morning in August, that I first met Simone and Mancio – we have been friends ever since, and will be for the rest of our lives.

“Thank you Davide, I know you will be alongside me for the rest of my life too.

“Thank you to Francesco. The captain’s armband I wore was inherited from the arm of a brother, a great captain and the most incredible footballer I have ever seen wear this shirt. Not everyone gets to play alongside their idol for 16 years. Now, with respect, I will pass this armband on to Alessandro. Another brother, one that I know is equally worthy of the honour.

“Thank you to mum and dad, for instilling in me two values that I have carried with me every single day: to never do to someone else something you would not want them to do to you, and to always offer a hand to those in trouble.

“Thank you to Ostia; to its people and its coast. You helped raise me as a child, you spurred me on as a teenager, and you welcomed me back as an adult.

Thank you also to those who supported me – and suffered with me – within the walls of our home: without Gaia, Olivia, Noah and especially Sarah I would be half the man I am today.

“Thank you to every Roma fan, my fans. Today, at least, I’ll allow myself to call you ‘my fans’ – because I was one of you, out there on the pitch, and the love you have always shown me helped me to keep on doing that. You are all the reason why I chose this city, this life, time and time again. Sunday will be the 616th time I make that choice, the right choice.

“No-one will ever love you more than I do.”


Akeem ReachnaijaMay 26, 2019
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Benfica wonderkid Joao Felix has insisted that he is happy to stay in Portugal despite links with two Premier League giants.

Felix, 19, made his Benfica first-team debut in August 2018 and went on to enjoy a wonderful maiden season in the Primeira Liga.

He went on to score 18 goals in 45 appearances to finish third behind Haris Seferovic and Rafa Silva among Benfica’s top scorers, as the Aguila lifted their 37th league title and also made the Europa League quarter finals.

Felix is not concerned by that speculation and is committed to staying at the Estadio da Luz.

“My future? I think that only time will tell,” he told Benfica’s official website.

“I am doing well here, I am very happy, I adore the club and these fans who love me.

“I want to seize this moment, play football, have fun doing what I like, and later, in time, things will happen naturally.

“I am very happy at Benfica.”


Akeem ReachnaijaMay 26, 2019
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Unai Emery is calling on his Arsenal side to summon up the spirit of tennis icon Rafael Nadal as they prepare to go in search of major silverware in the Europa League final.

The Gunners are set to face Premier League rivals Chelsea in a showpiece event on May 29.

Emery is hoping to see his team prevail, having previously claimed the Europa League crown on three previous occasions.

He is aware that fierce determination and belief will be required in order to get over the line, with fellow Spaniard and 17-time Grand Slam winner Nadal held up as a perfect role model for those seeking to bring tangible success back to north London.

“I read his book and I know some things about his history and he is work, work, work,” Emery told Arsenal Player of a countryman currently readying himself for a shot at a 12th French Open triumph.

“When he is also struggling sometimes in one match, playing for five hours in one game, tennis players have a lot of difficult moments.

“In the difficult moments you have to be strong in your mind to change the negative situation into a positive. Football is the same, only it’s in 90 minutes and you need your teammates because it is 11 players that are playing and you need one strong mentality, but each single player being together too.

“I saw him live in one match and I also like to play tennis too. When I am playing tennis, I am thinking in each moment during the match that I need to be very strong in my mind to battle my opposition player. If he’s better than me, with different strategies to play and fight against him too.

“Tennis is different from football because tennis is an individual game and an individual sport. Football is one team with 11 players and we need to do the combination and we need also where one player is not playing well another is playing well, the relation between them is very important.

“Tennis for me is a good sport because the mindset is very important. Because you need to be very strong in your mind and for the relationship with football I think it is the same. It’s the idea to transmit for the players, for each single player, to take this mindset to work strongly and to have a big individual mentality.

“After, if you can play with 11 players with a big mentality, for example like with Rafa Nadal, you can take the best performance and results for this sport.”

Arsenal need to emerge victorious against Chelsea in order to book a Champions League berth for 2019-20 after finishing their Premier League campaign in fifth spot.