Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Ahead of World Championships: Athletes returning time worries Igwe

Renowned athletics coach, Tobias Igwe (a.k.a Toblow) has expressed worry over poor timings that Nigerian athletes returned at the recently concluded All Nigeria and Cross River Open Athletics Championship held in Calabar.  

Sunderland boss vows to break bank for Musa

English Premiership club, Sunderland FC want to demonstrate their readiness for a big challenge in the coming season by making an audacious bid for Super Eagles winger,

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Breaking News...Carlo Ancelotti appointed Real Madrid boss and Blanc joins PSG

Carlo Ancelotti

Carlo Ancelotti has taken over as Real Madrid manager, with Laurent Blanc replacing the Italian as coach of Paris St-Germain.
Ancelotti, 54, led PSG to the French title last season.
He has signed a three-year deal in Spain to replace Jose Mourinho, who left to become Chelsea boss for the second time.
Blanc, 47, has agreed a two-year contract at the Parc des Princes.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Messi 26th birthday pix

“We just danced and then we played some PlayStation.”

Abidal close to Monaco switch

Eric Abidal is close to a return to Ligue 1 newcomers Monaco, his agent has confirmed.
The 33-year-old, who recovered from a liver transplant to return to action in April, will be a free agent at the end of the month after Barcelona announced their intention not to renew his contract.

Gunners’ pursuit of Gonalons hits brick wall

Arsenal’s pursuit of Maxime Gonalons hit a dead-end after the defensive midfielder’s club Lyon confirmed on their official website that the player will not be sold this summer, despite reports suggesting otherwise. Arsenal and Napoli have been linked with the 24-year old but Lyon refuted all rumours after reports in the media surfaced that the French outfit have set the midfielder’s transfer fee

Neymar has brutal quality — Iniesta

Barcelona midfielder, Andres Iniesta is relishing the prospect of teaming up with new signing Neymar next season.
The Spain star has been impressed with his new team-mate’s career to date and is confident that he

Ekpo backs F/Eagles as Nigeria confront Cuba today

Former Super Eagles midfielder, Friday Ekpo believes the embattled Flying Eagles can still soar in the ongoing FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey, despite losing their first game.

Akanni urges Flying Eagles to unite

Ex-international, Waidi Akanni has charged the Flying Eagles to play cohesively at the ongoing FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey to stand a chance of advancing in the tournament.
Akanni said in Lagos that the Flying Eagles would have to display all they were taught during their preparation in Germany.

Coaches worried over poor timing in Calabar

Some Coaches on Saturday expressed concern over the unimpressive return time posted by some of the athletes at the just-concluded All Nigeria/Cross River Open Athletics championships  in Calabar.

Keshi, bad example to Eagles — Gara Gombe

Former chairman of Gombe State Football Association, Ahmed Shuaibu Gara Gombe has taken a swipe on
Super Eagles Chief Coach, Stephen Keshi blaming him for the players’ revolt against the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF)

Chelsea jack up Mikel’s price tag to N4.183bn

English Premier League giants, Chelsea have jacked up the valuation of their prized player, John Mikel Obi and have told Galatasaray that only £20million (about N4,183,200,220.375) can force them to sell the midfielder.

Yobo denies England switch

Out-of-favour Super Eagles captain, Joseph Yobo has declared his intentions to remain in Turkey despite increased speculation about a move back to England.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Confed Cup: Enyeama blames fatigue for loss

Stand-in Eagles skipper, Vincent Enyeama, has blamed fatigue as the major reason for the Eagles 1-2 loss to Uruguay Thursday at the ongoing Confederations Cup.

Oliseh confident of Eagles qualification

Former Nigerian midfielder, Sunday Oliseh has said Super Eagles are very much in the semifinals qualification race at the ongoing 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.
Eagles fell to the Uruguayan foes, La Celeste 1-2 in the group’s second game in the early hours of

Juventus, Udinese meet over Asamoah’s full ownership

Juventus officials met their counterparts from Udinese on Tuesday to discuss their full-ownership bid for Ghana midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah.
Asamoah had joined the Old Lady at the beginning of the just ended campaign in a co-ownership deal from

Squash Federation set to relocate to Abuja

Nigeria Squash Federation (NSF) could relocate its headquarters to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, A top official of the federation who sought anonymity told our correspondent that the decision to move the secretariat from Lagos to Abuja dominated the board meeting and it seems the process to actualise it would commence soon.

F/Eagles got best preparations —Amadu

General Secretary of the Nigeria Football Federation, Musa Amadu, says the federation has full confidence in the ability of the national U-20 team, the Flying Eagles to perform at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey, declaring that they got the best of preparations for the championship.

Eagles should emulate Bafana Bafana – NFF chieftain

The Super Eagles players have been advised to emulate   their counterparts from other countries that never embarrass their fatherland or hold her to ransom over match bonus, but delight in services.
An executive committee member of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) who pleaded anonymity said: “the players should stop acting as if they are traitors. They are not living in the moon. They are aware of the precarious financial situation of NFF in recent time.”

Nigerian WBO champion aims at world title

Sergeant Isaac Ekpo, the reigning World Boxing Organisation (WBO) African Super Middleweight Champion has vowed to fly Nigeria’s flag high at the world level.
The 31-year-old boxer successfully defended his title after defeating Ayitey Powers of Ghana in round 10 on June 8 in Cotonou.

Federation appeals for release of seized boats

The Nigeria Rowing, Canoeing and Sailing Sports Federation has pleaded with the Federal Government to release its boats that were seized by the Nigeria Customs Service (NSC).
The president of the federation, retired Rear Admiral Festus Porbeni, made the plea at a demonstration event of the three sports at Jabi Lake in Abuja.

NFF yet to pay Keshi since February

Coach Stephen Keshi is not a happy man at the moment not because his team is not doing well but because his employers, the Nigeria Football Federation still owes him backlog of salaries.
A source close to the coach told our correspondent that the federation has not paid the tactician since the last Africa Nations Cup in February.
The source said the federation has blamed the delays due to the dire financial situation in the Glass House and Keshi has been forced to carry on with his assignment without an issue out of the ugly situation.
It will be recalled that the salary of the coach became an issue before the start of the Nations Cup before a last minute intervention ensured the coach was paid before the start of the tournament but the source said the

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Nnaji writes-off local players in national team

Chief Coach of national female basketball team, Scot Nnaji has written off the chances of home-based players breaking into the national team because ‘they still have more work to do’.
Speaking with Newswatch Sports, Nnaji said much as there are talents in the Zenith Basketball Championship, he however doubted their ability to play in big time competitions without being knocked into proper shape.Read more...

Turkey 2013: Portugal unleash Nigerian against Eagles

The Portuguese U-20 national team will unleash Tiago Ilori, a defender whose father is Nigerian, against the Flying Eagles when both teams clash at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Turkey.
The Portuguese, who were U-20 world champions in 1989 and 1991, were beaten in the 2011 World Cup

Messi, Neymar in brand war

Barcelona and Holland great, Johan Cruyff has said that it will be brands, not competition on the pitch, that will cause a breach in the relationship between Messi and Neymar.
The former Holland skipper had already warned that there might be conflict between these two main players,

FIFA fixes date for 2014 qualifying draw

FIFA have confirmed that the draw for the final round of African qualifying for the 2014 World Cup will take place in Cairo on September 16.
Bafana Bafana will hope that they are one of the 10 teams in the pot for the draw, which will determine the five play-off ties, the winners of which will advance to the finals in Brazil.
The top five teams according to the FIFA rankings will be seeded, with Bafana unlikely to be among those should they make it out of their pool.
That means a probably meeting with the likes of Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Algeria, Tunisia or Nigeria.
The first legs of the play-offs will be held between October 11-15, with the reverse fixtures taking place on November 15-19.
South Africa are waiting to hear from FIFA if their Brazil chances are still alive, with Ethiopia likely to be docked three points from their fixture against Botswana earlier this month.
That would leave Bafana needing to beat the Botswana in September, and hope Ethiopia get no more than a draw against Central African Republic.

Players exodus may hit Rangers

With few weeks to the start of the group stage of 2013 CAF Confederation cup, Nigeria’ only surviving club in continental competition, Enugu Rangers International F.C, may lose some key players who want to go out for greener pastures.
Information at our disposal has it that about four players registered by the club for the continental club campaign might be on their way out of the club to seek clubs overseas.

Mikel: We will beat Uruguay

Mikel Obi has predicted that Nigeria will beat South American champions, Uruguay in continuation of the FIFA Confederations Cup tonight.  The African champions expectedly thrashed minnows Tahiti in their opening FIFA Confederations Cup game and the Chelsea midfielder has assured the Super Eagles are in Brazil to fly Africa’s flag highest.
How will you describe the opening game against Tahiti?
It was a great game for us getting the maximum three points with a wide margin. It was a great game for us. We gave our best and it paid off. Read more...

Keshi upset by missed chances

Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi has frowned at the poor conversion rate of his strikers ahead of Nigeria’s second group game against Uruguay.
Nigeria scored ‘just’ six goals against Tahiti from 19 shots ten of which were on target, as Musa, Ujah and substitute Ideye failed to make the most of glaring chances.

Brazil beefs up security for Confed Cup

Brazil will deploy a special police force to fortify security for the Confederations Cup tournament, following mass protests against government spending, the state news agency said yesterday.
Officers belonging to the National Force, a branch of the federal police deployed in cases of social unrest, will be sent to five of the six cities where the tournament will be played, Agencia Brasil reported, citing the Justice Ministry.

Flying Eagles aim for winning start

Nigeria will hope to get off to a winning start in Friday night’s opening Group B match against Portugal at the U-20 World Cup in Turkey.
The Flying Eagles, who finished third at the recent African Youth Championship in Algeria, are drawn against Portugal, debutants Cuba and South Korea in Group B based in Kayseri.
Portugal beat Nigeria 2-1 at the recent Toulon International Tournament in France as a prelude to Friday’s showdown.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

It’s right decision to turn down Chelsea — Okore

New Aston Villa signing, Jores Okore believes he made the right decision in turning down a move to Chelsea.
The 20-year-old departed Danish side FC Nordsjaelland to sign a four-year contract at Villa Park, and admitted he could have chosen to join the Stamford Bridge outfit instead.
But Villa manager Paul Lambert was an influential figure in his decision, and he is confident the club will be a good match for him.

Ajose’s opponent, Gesta withdraws from fight

Olusegun Ajose’s hope to move closer to a shot at the world title suffered a setback at the weekend after his opponent in the July 19 World Boxing Council (WBC) Lightweight contest Mercito Gesta withdrew from the fight on medical advice.
The Filipino, who is nick named ‘no mercy’ for his aggression in the ring said that he was forced to pull out of the fight following the ribs injury he suffered in sparring training on Friday but hopes to return stronger.
Gesta said on his Facebook “Due to an injury that I suffered today while training, doctors recommended that I cancel my fight on July 19th.
“I apologize to all my fans and supporters around the world. As I feel really disappointed now. I’ll get passed this and will be back stronger,”
However, some boxing pundits belief that the cancellation of the fight was a lucky break for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) number 10 contender, Gesta, who is not in his best shape to face Ajose.
“Olusegun is a very good fighter who gave Lucas Matthysse all he could handle last year in September before getting stopped in the 10th round.
“I think Gesta should see this as a sign that he needs to go in another direction. Olusegun is just too good for Gesta in my view and I always thought this was a bad match-up for Gesta as soon I heard about this fight.
“Olusegun is too advanced for him and much too active and strong. It would have been a mismatch with Olusegun giving Gesta a real pounding,’ said a pundit.
Gesta, 25, has not fought since losing a lopsided 12 round unanimous decision to IBF lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez last December in a fight where Gesta lost by the scores of 119-109, 118-110 and 117-111.

Yobo: I’m happy at Fenerbahce

Super Eagles Captain, Joseph Yobo has rubbished   media reports linking him away from Turkish giants, Fenerbahce.
The former Everton of England defender, who completed a £2m permanent move to the Turkish champions last season after two seasons loan spell at the club, has been linked with a return to the English Premier League with either Cardiff City or Hull City as possible destination.
But Yobo, who will soon be in Nigeria with his family for holiday that he and his family are happy at Fenerbahc and has no plan to quit the club this summer.
 “My family loves Istanbul,” begins Yobo.
“There have been many transfer news about me but I hope to return in July 1 to join the rest of the team for the pre-season trainings,” he said.
The 32-year-old former Olympique Marseille player is thought to be unhappy at the club following Coach Aykut Kocaman departure in May and with the recent £5m signing of Portuguese defender Bruno Alves from Zenit St Petersburg.

‘Amoo forced on NFF as U-23 coach’

Fresh facts have emerged that the newly appointed Chief Coach of the nation’s U-23 coach, Fatai Amoo may have been forced on the Nigeria Football Federation(NFF) by very influential stakeholders from the South West region of the country.
A reliable source told Newswatch Sports that NFF was arm-twisted into choosing Amoo by some influential people from the South Western region.
A top NFF official said that some powerful football stakeholders from the region had argued that they have been short-changed in the appointment of national team coaches and demanded compensation with Amoo’s appointment.
According to him, some football stakeholders are not comfortable with the choice of Amoo as they do not believe he has the capacity to control players of the U-23.
“I want to tell you the extent to which the South West people went for Amoo to be appointed. To the extent that some governors were even calling the NFF President, Aminu Maigari, demanding that justice be done and he had no choice but to succumb to the pressure.
“Come to think of it, they were right to some extent because the region do not have a coach heading any of the national teams. But in the real sense of it, appointing coaches for the national teams should not be based on balancing regional interest,” he stressed.
However, there is strong concern over Amoo’s capability to manage the U-23 team players who are almost senior players.
“I am not saying that he is not a good coach but my fear is that he may not be able to control the big boys. Amoo is a gentleman but you need more than that to handle a team like that,” he said.
Several top coaches had applied for the job to coach the U-23 team job. Among those who had indicated interest to on the post was former assistant coach of the team, Ben Iroha.

Nasarawa Utd players get 50% sign on fees

Succour has come the way of Nasarawa United players as the State Governor, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura has approved immediate release of 50 per cent of their 2012-2013 sign- on fees.
Special Assistant to the governor, Silas Agara, who disclosed this to Newswatch Sports, noted that the gesture will go a long way to spur the players to put   qualify for a continental championship at the end of the season.
He said that Governor Al-Makura has demonstrated that he is particularly concerned with what is going on in the club and wishes to see it progress to the highest level.
“We have really been enjoying the support of the governor since he came on board. It was when he came that the team gained promotion to the Premier League,” Agara said.
He applauded the players for keeping faith with the management of the team even when the sign on fees were yet to be approved.
“The players have kept faith with us and they have been coming out with good results. It is that performance that spurred the governor to quickly approve the payment of the 50 per cent sign on fee.”
He further assured that with sustained good performance by the team, the Governor may be forced to release the remaining 50 per cent of the sign on fees.

Oshodi assures great future for t/tennis

The President of Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF), Wahid Enitan Oshodi has revealed that the urge to lead the game in the country came from intensive pressure from stakeholders to come on board and give realistic push to the sport, based on his background and knowledge.
He said that he had dismissed the thought because he had enough on his hands as the Lagos State Commissioner for Sports.
“I guess that all the moves must have been based on my performance as the Chairman of Lagos State Table Tennis Association (LASTTA) in the past years, which they believed I could re-enacted to bring back the country as a force to reckon with at the continental and world stage,” he added.
He noted that the calibre of people in the board of the federation shall conquer as they intend to revolve the developmental programmes around the youths.  The board, he said will exploit the enormous talents in the country and turn the sport around. “The home truth we have unveiled is that we must go back to the basics in order to discover and truly catch the abundant talents much younger. This will enable the coaches to groom and monitor teams closely for speedy results.”  He said that in order to promptly accomplish that without much hassles, the services of first rate instructors must be engaged to harness the talents.
“There is a lot to be done to get the players that would be discovered ready. We must provide standard tables including other modern equipment that will facilitate the efforts of the younger ones from our schools. To achieve the desired impact, the NTTF leadership must liaise with the board members in the six geo-political zones, the state coaches that will do it right in the various schools,” he stressed.
He  explained that championships would be organised to keep the players in shape all year round as he  recalled that in the 1960’s till  late 1980’s table tennis was one of the popular and well sort after sports by fans in the country.
He promised to ensure that the game would be given a new lease of life by re-inventing it starting by putting together regular championships that will bring the required experience to the players.
“Yes our players need more exposure that will give them solid confidence to face any player in international meets. The need to bring them back to the playing arena has arisen more than ever before. The   board is determined to take the bull by the horn. We cannot afford to fail, rather we must justify the confidence reposed on us by those that invited on us to come on board to salvage and breathe life into the game,” he said.

NCF wants cricket in Calabar sports festival

As a way of pushing cricket into the mainstream of the nation’s sports, the Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF) has concluded plans to approach the organisers of next year National Sports Festival to allow cricket to debut.
The federation noted that apart from their plans to take the game to the grassroots, the National Sports Festival is a very strong platform that can be used to make the game which is very unpopular in this part of the world to begin to generate some followership.
A top member of the board of the federation, Kayode Adeniyi told Newswatch Sports that they will soon be going to Calaber to meet with the Sports Commissioner and state Director of Sports to discuss the possibility   of having the game feature in the festival to hosted ib Calabar.
“Since we came on board we are making effort to see how to make the game gain ground in Nigeria. Though, we have our road map on how we want to achieve our goal but we also feel that the National Sports Festival will be a good platform to sell the game to the minds of Nigerians. We shall be meeting with all those concerned with the hosting of the game and we pray that they will see sense in what we are saying,”
Adeniyi said that while in Calabar,the federation would be making a donation of cricket equipment to the state and  partners with the state Cricket Association to organise a coaching clinic among schools and basic coaching courses for sports officers in Calabar.
He also said that the NCF will provide technical support in the development of cricket pitch while the host state will provide other facilities adding that maintained that the federation will include coaching personnel from Cross River State in future coaching courses. On whether they would be able to raise enough team to feature at the games, Adeniyi argued that many states have started playing the game, assuring that getting enough representation to participate at the games will not be a challenge.
“What people do not know is that many states play cricket now in Nigeria. Though, no much noise is made about them, but they are there. We are very sure that if we are admitted to participate at the Calabar Games, we will not be short of numbers of team to participate,” he said.

Chelsea confirms: Schürrle is our!

Chelsea have reached an agreement to sign Andre Schurrle !Chelsea Football Club have announced officially they have reached an agreement with Bayer Leverkusen for signing their star player Andre Schurrle.
The young German striker was traced by Chelsea for a long time after Chelsea needed a striker apart from Fernando Torres and Ba at Stamford Bridge.
Schurrle, 22 will become Jose Mourinho’s first signing after he agree personal terms and pass medical for the Europa League winners.
Chelsea said in a statement: “Chelsea Football Club and Bayer 04 Leverkusen have reached an agreement for the transfer of Andre Schurrle, subject to the completion of legal documentation and related matters, including personal terms and passing a medical.”

Eagles bonus war fallout:Enyeama, Mikel, Ejide face sanctions

Three key Super Eagles players, midfielder Mikel Obi, goalkeepers Vincent Enyeama and Austin Ejide have been picked as the chief architects of the bonus war against the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
Although NFF leadership has said that the issue has been resolved following the intervention of the Presidency through the Minster of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, reliable sources say there are plans   to punish the players that led the revolt.
The Eagles had held NFF officials to ransom after the
1-1 draw against the Brave Warriors of Namibia in a World Cup qualifier on Wednesday as they rejected $2,500 dollars bonus offer by the federation
The players, who insisted on $5,000 dollars vehemently refused to leave their Country Club Resort Windhoek for a scheduled flight to Johannesburg en route Brazil for the Confederations Cup, and consequently missed their connection to Sao Paulo from South Africa.
Newswatch Sports can authoritatively reveal that the Glass House has vowed to bring to book the players who instigated the crisis which caused Nigeria   international embarrassment.
According to our source Enyeama, Mikel and Ejide have been identified as the players that spearheaded headed the revolt and “must be punished to serve as deterrence to others.”
 “The Maigari-led NFF board were thoroughly embarrassed by the action of the players and would wield the big stick at the appropriate time. The federation is very angry because of the international dimension it took. They are already know those who instigated the trouble in the team. And they have been pencilled down for sanction. Let’s see what happens after the Confederations Cup,” he said.
On the kind of punishment that awaits the players, he said that it won’t proper to let the cat out of the bag, adding: The fact remains that the hammer will fall on these players.
It was gathered that the federation felt insulted when   Enyeama, Mikel and Ejide stormed out of a peace meeting with NFF officials, went and held other players hostage.
“NFF top officials were angered by the action of Enyeama,Ejide and Mikel during a meeting. They forced other players into an action. They held the players hostage in their hotel by insisting that they must not leave for the scheduled flight to South Africa.
To Nigerians, the issue have been resolved by the intervention of the Sports Minister, but after the Confederation Cup, the issue will be revisited. The NFF smells a rat that some external influence. But our football will continue to be the worst for it if we encourage this kind of action by the players,” he said. 

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Okon wants proper monitor of refs in Akure

Board of the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL) has been told to closely monitor the activities of match officials posted to Akure to handle league matches in the centre.
Recently, matches played in Akure, home ground of Sunshine Queens have ended either in fracas or abandoned for alleged bias officiating in favour of the home team.
Coach Edwin Okon of Rivers Angels, while reacting to the NWFL board warning to Sunshine Queens and the Ondo State Football Association to improve on the security lapses in their home said that unless the officiating officials sent to the centre are closely and sincerely monitored by the NWFL the situation will continue.
“Well, I’m not part of the league board. I’m only a coach of a club side, so if the league board have decided on that I don’t have anything to say than to commend them but they should monitor the referees at that particular centre. The referees and the management of the club are the problem. They should be monitored,” he said.
 NWFL Chairman, Dili Onyedinma also warned the visiting teams and players not to take laws into their hands by attacking referees or abandoning matches at little provocation.
“Football breeds friendships and should not be taken as a do-or die affair. Home teams should always be good host to their visitors, because they would also visit the other teams at their home ground at a later date. We would not tolerate a situation where a woman player would attack a referee for whatever cause” she warned.
 Sunshine Queens have had two of its last home matches abandoned in controversial notes. Their Week 10 match against Ibom Queens ended in fracas after a player was alleged to have assaulted the referee which forced the home fans to encroach into the field of play. In their Week 11 match against the Rivers Angels at the same venue, the visitors abandoned the match in protest.

Man City now highest paying team

Man-chester City have become the best paid sports team in the world after leapfrogging Barcelona and Real Madrid for this year’s top spot.
Since billionaire Sheikh Mansour’s takeover in 2008, City have become a global force on and off the football pitch, with the average wage of a first-team player rising to a whopping £5.2million a year.
City’s sky-high earners such as Yaya Toure, Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez are part of the highest paid sports team in the world, with an average weekly wage for a member of the first-team squad reaching a staggering £100,764, more than £7,000 higher than second-placed baseball side LA Dodgers’ average.
In a survey conducted by Sportingintelligence’s Global Sports Salaries Survey (GSSS) for 2013, compiled in association with ESPN The Magazine, two other Premier League clubs feature in the top 12 alongside City.
City’s bitter Manchester rivals United were placed in 12th on the list with a £3.9m average annual pay per year (£75,423 per week) and Chelsea dropped from fourth in last year’s survey to eighth, with an average annual pay of £4.1m (£78,053 per week).
La Liga giants Real Madrid (3) and Barcelona (4) follow one another on the list, both with an average annual pay of around £4.7m (£90,500 per week).
Barca and Real occupied numbers one and two in last year’s survey, but their fall is in part put down to the waning strength of the euro.
Serie A sides Milan (6) and Inter (10) are both high in the standings, with Champions League winners Bayern Munich (9) representing the Bundesliga.
There are three baseball teams in the top twelve and one basketball team. MLB teams the Dodgers (2), the New York Yankees (5) and the Philadelphia Phillies (11) all taking their places. 
The presence of both the Yankees and City on the list shows the combined financial clout of the two franchises, just weeks after the two brands launched joint venture New York City, a new Major League Soccer side based in the Big Apple.
The sole representative of the NBA in the top 12 are basketball team the LA Lakers, who are placed seventh on the list. The average of the Lakers is propped up by superstars such as Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.
Figures used in the survey are from the 2012/13 seasons in the NBA, NHL and NFL seasons and for seasons completed during or at the end of 2012 in other leagues.
The report features average wage information from the 12 most popular sports leagues in the world (based on average attendance).
The leagues are the NFL, Bundesliga, Premier League, AFL, MLB,  La Liga, CFL, NPB, Serie A, IPL,

NHL and NBA.
Rank (Last                                                                Average annual                      Average annual
year’s                         Team                Sport              pay £ (Average                      pay $ (Average
position)                                                                    weekly pay)                           weekly pay)

1 (3)    Manchester City    Football    £5,239,750 (£100,764)    $8,059,477 ($154,990)
2 (69)    Los Angeles Dodgers     Baseball    £4,855,783 (£93,380)    $7,468,882 ($143,632)
3 (2)    Real Madrid    Football    £4,718,172 (£90, 734)    $7,257,216 ($139,562)
4 (1)    Barcelona     Football    £4,690,430 ($90,201)    $7,214,545 ($138,741)
5 (6)    New York Yankees    Baseball    £4,649,188 ($89,407)    $7,151,109 ($137,521)
6 (7)    Milan    Football    £4,251,111 (£81,752)    $6,538,811 ($125,746)
7 (5)    LA Lakers    Basketball    £4,090,742 (£78,671)    $6,292,403 ($121,008)
8 (4)    Chelsea    Football    £4,058,742 (£78,053)    $6,242,919 ($120,056)
9 (8)    Bayern Munich    Football    £4,000,036 (£76,924)    $6,152,622 ($118,320)
10 (10)    Inter Milan    Football    £4,000,000 (£76,923)    $6,152,566 ($118,319)
11 (9)    Philadelphia Phillies    Baseball    £3,982,336 (£76,583)    $6,125,397 ($117,796)
12 (11)    Manchester United     Football    £3,921,987 (£75,423)    $6,032,572 ($116,011)

Monaco dangle £85m for Ronaldo

Monaco are ready to make a world record €100m (£85m) bid for Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ronaldo has just two years left on his contract at Madrid and is known to be disillusioned with life at the Santiago Bernabeu, at the end of his fourth season there.
The Ligue 1 club, funded by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, have already spent over £110m this summer on Radamel Falcao of Atletico Madrid and James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho of Porto. They are now prepared to make their boldest move yet, taking advantage of the Portuguese forward’s frustration at Madrid, and failure to sign a new deal, to tempt him to join with a world record salary offer of €20m (£17m) per year.
Monaco are closely monitoring Ronaldo’s negotiations with Real Madrid over a contract extension, and if no deal is done by late July or August they will make their move. There have been talks between Monaco and Ronaldo’s camp over the last 18 months and the two parties met earlier this year.
Ronaldo feels underappreciated at Madrid and believes he is due a pay rise. He is especially keen to earn more than his great rival Lionel Messi at Barcelona.   In February  this year, Messi signed a new contract with Barcelona that will last until 2018, heavily incentivised but with a basic salary starting at €12m per year, but increased through bonuses and image rights.
Monaco will offer Ronaldo an annual salary of €20m, which would equate to nearly £330,000 per week. The principality of Monaco does not charge its residents income tax and so Ronaldo would become the highest-paid footballer in the world.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who would be his Ligue 1 rival at Paris Saint-Germain, has a net salary of between €13m and €14m but because of France’s near 75 per cent tax rate on top earners, Paris have to pay out far more than that. Monaco would face no such issue.
This summer, since their promotion back to Ligue 1, Monaco have spent more than £100m on players, all of whom are clients of Ronaldo’s agent, Jorge Mendes. Their summer spending started with a combined £60m on the Porto pair Rodriguez and Moutinho – both of whom are Mendes players, as is Ricardo Carvalho, formerly of Chelsea and Real Madrid, who arrived on a free transfer.
Their next purchase was Falcao, the Colombian forward who joined from Atletico Madrid for a fee of roughly £50m, and will be paid £12m annually. Victor Valdes, the Barcelona goalkeeper, is likely to be the next arrival. They have also been linked with John Terry.
Monaco would have to bid another world record fee for Ronaldo, as Real Madrid would be keen to make back the €95m (£80m) which they paid Manchester United for him in 2009. United are also keen on Ronaldo’s signature this summer, with the player himself open to the possibility of returning to Old Trafford, where he enjoyed six brilliant seasons between 2003 and 2009. There has also been ongoing dialogue between Ronaldo’s camp and United over the past six months.
Ronaldo has scored an implausible 199 goals in 201 games at Real Madrid since his arrival from Manchester United in 2009. Only the feats of Messi at Barcelona have stopped Ronaldo from being recognised as the undisputed player of his generation.
But, with one Spanish title and one Copa Del Rey in four years of individual brilliance at Madrid, he has not done as well as he could have. In those four years, Messi has won three Spanish titles, the Champions League, a Copa Del Rey, the Club World Cup and, importantly, three Fifa Ballon D’Or awards. Ronaldo has not been crowned the world’s best since his 2008 Ballon D’Or and would love to win it again. Last September, Ronaldo declined to celebrate two goals that he scored for Madrid, explaining that it was because he was “unhappy” with the club.

Kaffo laments slow sports growth

Former Commonwealth table tennis queen, Bose Kaffo has expressed worries over the steady decline of Nigeria’s sports despite abundant talents and resources.
She expressed this during a telephone conversation at the week, saying that urgent steps should be taken to stem the slide.
“In the 1980s and 1990s, our strength was integrity. We got sponsors because we wanted to perform well in championships. Then the administrators were accountable for any money placed in their trust. That was one of the strongest points that propelled the game in the country then. It is a pity that sports generally is dying gradually by the day. It must not be allowed to die now that the world has truly become a global village with the benefit of modern communication facilities.
‘Sports deal with communication because it is dynamic and has one of the best facilities for publicity and advert. I think this is the time the telecommunication giants in the country and other multi-nationals have to support the sector in the country. This is not the time for lip service and ambush marketing,” she said.
She added that she is disturbed, because nothing seems to be going well with sports as growth and development have been very slow. Instead of States Sports Councils increasing their drive to turn out quality athletes as it used to be, they are recycling old athletes.
Kaffo recalled that when she played table tennis   with others for instance, the game was one among the powerful sport. “The players had fun playing it. The administrators were committed like the players. Where there is any difference, both parties came together sincerely and honestly get them resolved permanently for the love of the game and country. There was   honesty among the administrators such that you can hold them by their words. That is not to say that it was all full of roses, but they were more matured. One may be tempted to believe that it may be some of the reasons why sports progressed that period at the states and national levels. In fact, we had support from everywhere.”
On how competitions strived in those days, she said: “We had so many championships then, so many of them that I can’t remember now. We had open championships in which our champions were respected. Teams were taken outside our shores for tournaments and they were all coming back with results.
“I recall that competitions were organised to up the performance of the athletes ahead of any game. Sometimes it could be monthly or yearly. It is so sad that things are not happening this way again, especially to sports that would have been useful to this great country just as it is in other parts of the World.
“If federations can organise themselves properly, sponsors will fall over themselves. I think the main thing is in the hands of the federations, the door is open and improved facilities are available now. So they should get things organised,” she said.

Confederations Cup: Oliseh leads SuperSport analysts

As the Super Eagles get set to rumble at the FIFA Confederations Cup Championship in Brazil, cable TV network, SuperSport has promised football loving Nigerians of excellent coverage of the competition.
General Manager, SuperSport West Africa, Felix Awogu, who made this known to Newswatch Sports said former Super Eagles’ captain, Sunday Oliseh is among the eight man illustrious panel of football experts assembled to give in-depth analysis of the championship.
Other top analysts in the panel include, Samuel Kuffour, Mark Fish, Shaun Barlett, Gary Bailey, Neil Tovey, Doctor Khumalo and Andre Arendse.
“We’re happy to inform football loving Nigerians that all the matches will be available in our capable and with the like of Sunday Oliseh, who will be leading seven other analysts, we promise to make it a world class production,’ he said.
The Super Eagles, who are African champions, are drawn in group B alongside, 2010 World Cup winners-Spain, South America champion- Uruguay and Oceania champions-Tahiti.
It is the second appearance at the competition for the Super Eagles, who finished fourth in 1995 when the tournament was held in Saudi Arabia as the king Fahd Cup.
The Super Eagles will open their campaign on June 17 with a clash against Tahiti and will follow it up with their second game against Uruaguay on June 20, while their last group B match will be against Spain on June 23.

Don’t write-off F/Eagles —Ikpeme

The head of the technical department of the Nigeria Football Federation, Dr. Emmanuel Ikpeme has pleaded with Nigerians not to write off the Flying Eagles as they prepare to take part in the FIFA U-20 World Cup which is scheduled to commence this wekened in Turkey.
Ikpeme told Newswatch Sports in Abuja that despite the poor performance of the team at the recently concluded Toulon tournament in France as well as their not too impressive performance at the Africa Youth Championship in Algeria, the team still has the potential to spring a surprise at the World Cup.
He said: It is unfortunate that the team has been   churning out very bad results which informed the concern of Nigerians.
“I understand why Nigerians do not have confidence in the team’s chances in Turkey. Yes, they did not have good results in most of their friendly matches, but that is not enough reason to write them off. I feel they will do well at the World Cup.”
Ikpeme stated further that the whole essence of the friendly match was to help identify areas in the team that needed to be beefed up ahead of the championship.
“Again, the fact that they now know that Nigerians do not have much confidence in them is enough to motivate them to give their best. They know what is at stake and they will indeed give their best at the world stage. So, I feel there is no need to panic at all,” he said.
The John Obuh-led Flying Eagles came last in their group at the invitational tournament in France. They were also not able to retain the Africa Youth Championship which they won two years ago in South Africa as they only managed to win a bronze at the tournament in Algeria.

ECOWAS charges member on traditional sports

The ECOWAS Commissioner for Human Development and Gender, Dr. Adrienne Diop has urged member states to promote the capacity development of trainers and referees at the national level to complement the efforts of the ECOWAS Youth Sports and Development Centre (EYSDC) at ensuring the growth of African wrestling.
In the speech read by the EYSDC Director, Mr. Francis Njoaguani, the commissioner also called on all stakeholders to embrace the commission’s passion for traditional sports by protecting the legacy of the game.
On his part, Niger’s Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Kounou Hassane, described the ECOWAS Traditional Wrestling Tournament (TOLAC) as a platform to showcase Africa’s rich cultural values.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 9th edition of the tournament in Niamey, the Minister traced the principles of traditional wrestling to the values of tolerance, fraternity, friendliness, solidarity, accord and courage, often displayed in village squares, market places and African streets.
He called on both athletes and officials to bear these in mind so as to ensure the success of the yearly competition that gathers traditional wrestlers from ECOWAS member states.

Baribote says clubs yet to receive LMC money

Victor Baribote, the proprietor of Nembe City of Bayelsa, on Wednesday said that all the clubs in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) were yet to receive money from the body.
Baribote, who led his team to Akure to honour their mid-week encounter against Sunshine Stars of Akure in the NPFL, said that the League Management Committee (LMC) under the NPFL was yet to release any money to all the 20 clubs in the league.
According to him, the first phase of the league was to be rounded-up without any amount being given to the various clubs in the league.
He claimed that he was unlawfully ``overthrown’’ from the defunct Nigeria Premier League (NPL) because it was said that he could not get money for the clubs in the league.
It could be recalled that the defunct NPL board now NPFL chaired by Baribote was voted out of office in Abuja in December 2012.
“They (the Nigeria Football Federation), said we could not get money for clubs, but those who thought they could turn things around have not made any progress since.
“Heartland could not honour a match and they were representing the country, what are we saying?
“I called the minister three or four days ago that you dissolved my board because we could not get money for the clubs, but this is the end of the first round and we have not received a dime,” he said.
Baribote, who praised his club’s performance so far in the league, attributed it to the club’s good management and good interaction with the players.
“Football is all about organization which is what I have been stressing.
“Interaction with the players also helps; football has something to do with the mind, sometimes I come to the pitch to see them train,” he said

Idowu excluded from GB squad for Euros

Triple jumper, Phillips Idowu will not be part of the action at the coming 4th European Athletics Team championships holding from June 22-23 in Gateshead, Great Britain.
The former Com-monwealth Games champion has been excluded from a strong Great Britain and Northern Ireland squad that will be led by Olympic champion, Mo Farah at the championship.
British Athletics Head Coach, Peter Eriksson said that the team’s selection was based on merit.
 “In selecting the team we prioritised athletes who would give us best possible chance to win this prestigious competition whilst competing in front of an enthusiastic home crowd.
“I am delighted that our athletes have made this event a key part of their summer campaign and look forward to seeing how close we can get to repeating the victories of 2000 and 1989.
“It is also a pleasure to name Perri Shakes Drayton as Team Captain for the Championships. She was excellent at the European Indoors in March winning two gold medals against top class competition, and I know that she can lead by example both on and off the track this weekend.”
Idowu and Eriksson’s prede-cessor, Charles van Commenee had fallen out in spectacular style but the current head coach - who is himself leaving next month - has had no such issues.
Eriksson said: “I have never had any problems in capturing his interest. We have had a good contact, I have met with him several times and he has said all along that he is focused on the world championships.
“He’s in a good environment, training well and he’s on the road.”
Idowu’s Olympics ended in disappointment - hampered by injury in the build-up, he failed to make the final. His return to action came in Rome last week when he made one successful jump, enough to earn him seventh spot, but then two fouls before he called it a night.

Swansea coach threatens to resign over Odemwingie

Swansea’s coach, Michael Laudrup, has threatened to quit the job if the club owner, Huw Jenkins does not make funds available for him to acquire Nigerian international, Peter Odemwngie and other players he intended to beef up the squad with.
Laudrup had a gentleman’s agreement with Jenkins that funds would be made available to acquire some of the players he listed for the club, but as the delay in releasing the fund to him lingers on, most of the players have been poached by other clubs.
This has infuriated the Manager who is now threatening to call it quits with the job if Swansea management does not show more commitment to his ambition and aspirations of making a credible impact in the club next season.
“I had hoped for some signings at this stage,” Laudrup said. “The chairman and board have the names of the possible players. All, except one, are in Swansea’s level for a fee and salary.
“Everyone is looking forward to receiving some news regarding new players,” he told The Times of London.
One of his transfer targets, Iago Aspas, was on the verge of moving to Liverpool last night and Swansea responded by announcing the arrival of José Cañas on a free transfer from Real Betis also yesterday, but the deal for the midfielder had been done some time ago.
Laudrup has a £10 million release clause in his contract and with Joseph Yobo’s club, Fenerbahçe beckoning on him, the Dane  is pondering over the Turkish lure in the face of the poor support from Swansea board.  Fernerbahce have no coach at the moment.
Swansea Chairman, Jenkins has been assuring him of a financial support to make his purchases, but the report say the coach is growing increasingly disillusioned as other clubs, but Swansea continue to fortify for next season.  
Odemwingie,  who is the target of several Premiership clubs, tried unsuccessfully to force his way out of West Bromwich Albion  to relegated Queens Park Rangers in January and ever after has been an outcast in the Albion.
A feeler from England told Newswatch Sports that the Nigerian international has held the much awaited career-defining meeting with his club management and it was unanimously agreed that it would be better for the player to leave.
A source said the transfer fee agreed on the player was far better than what Osaze had hoped; and to top the matter up for him, the club also agreed that a fine of £100,000 imposed on him for wooing another club in January without permission be cancelled.  Thus, he will be refunded the amount.
The credible source said West Brom will lose about £5 million in Osaze’s saga and they are prepared to make such sacrifice because they equally broke some Premiership rules which they would not like to be exposed for fear of stiffer sanctions.
The Nigerian is being courted by no less than seven clubs from within the Premiership and abroad, but the resolve of the player is to remain in England.

Babatunde’s club, FC Kryvbas bankrupt

One-cap Nigeria international Michael Babatunde will have to look for a new club.
Last season’s Ukrainian Premier League outfit FC Kryvbas states on the official website that bankruptcy proceedings have been initiated against the club after they failed to get additional funding.
‘’All employees have two weeks to finish all work and hand over available property,’’ said the statement on
20-year-old Michael Babatunde, one of the youngest players in the current Eagles squad, joined FC Kryvbas two years ago from Heartland FC.
He is credited with 2 goals in 44 appearances (16 starts) for the club based in Kryvyi Rih.

FIFA: Turkey safe for U20 World Cup

FIFA have assured that all those involved in the U-20 World Cup in Turkey are safe despite media reports on the riots in major cities in the country.
Anti-government protests have been going on for about two weeks now in the major cities of Istanbul and Ankara forcing police to use some force to stop them.
The U-20 World Cup kicks off on June 21 with an opening game between debutants Cuba and South Korea.
Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana and Mali will represent Africa at the tournament.
In a circular dated June 11 and signed by deputy secretary general Markus Kattner, FIFA said the World Cup will go ahead as scheduled as the protests will not affect the tournament.
The world football governing body said they are in regular contact with the Turkish government as regards security and they have received further assurances from the Turkish National Police.

Harambee Stars survive Flames in Blantyre

According to online edition of Portugal’s leading sports daily, A Bola, Nigeria international Peter Suswam might continue his collaboration with Vitoria Setubal.
The leadership of the club has offered Suswam, who becomes a free agent at the end of this month, a fresh two-year contract.
Baring last minute changes he is expected to put pen to paper for another contract with The Old Esquire in the coming weeks.
Last season, 21-year-old Suswam managed only one game in the Primeira Liga.  He arrived Vitoria Setubal two years ago from domestic club Lobi Stars.

Peter Crouch remembers Kano fans

England striker Peter Crouch still reserve fresh memories of football fans in Kano where he featured 14 years ago.
Crouch was among the England team at the FIFA U-20 World Cup hosted by Nigeria, with Kano their Group stage venue.
The team got their first taste of action in West Africa in the newly opened Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano, with 19,000 fans adding colour and verve to their Group D opener against the USA.
“We were going into the unknown, I had never been to Africa - let alone Nigeria - and the fans were crazy, it was a great experience,” he said on
“You could tell that they were so pleased to have it there and it was a huge deal for them. The atmosphere in the stadium was mental, but it was great and good to be part of.
“The shock of arriving and people welcoming you - I don’t think we really realised how big it was until we got there, but all the lads embraced it and it probably stood a lot of us in good stead for the future.”
The future for Crouch was to feature trips to both Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010 with the senior side, where he got the former off to the perfect start in what turned out to be an awkward match against Trinidad and Tobago.
England crashed out of the competition in the Group stage.

Brave Warriors hold Eagles in Windhoek

True to their pre-match boasting, the Brave Warriors of Namibia fought gallantly to hold the African Champions, Nigeria to a 1  - 1 draw last night in a group F African World Cup qualifier played at the capacity Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek.
First half had ended barren after both sides squandered gilt-edge chances and the second half was equally heading the same way when a blunder by Super Eagles’ Godfrey Oboabona gifted Warrior’s Deon Hotto Kavendji the ball.  The player made no mistake in shooting the home side ahead in the 76th minute.
A report said the goal galvanized the Warriors into more ferocious attack forays forcing the Nigerian backline to make more mistakes.  But the African champions braved the Warriors and countered the attack.
In one such counter, Mikel Obi was fouled at the edge of the Namibian vital area.  Oboabona stepped out from the pack to release a thunderous free kick that beat the Namibian goalkeeper for the equaliser.
As both teams searched for winner, Ogenyi Onazi was injured and was promptly replaced by John Ogu while the midfield Trojan, Sunday Mbah was also pulled out for Fegor Ogude as the AFCON hero fatigued.
Ogu who had a terrific game against Kenya last week, had the opportunity to win the tie for Nigeria in the 88th minute after a Nigerian player was, for the umpteenth time, fouled by more physical Namibians, but the Eagles debutant threw away the resultant free kick.
As the game wore on, it became a ding-dong affair with both sides cautious conceding the winner.  It was a huge relief to the two teams when the referee signaled the end of hostilities leaving Nigeria still ahead of the pack with nine points.
Malawi who ended their game against Kenya 2 – 2 earlier on are second with seven points, while Namibia trail third on five points.  Kenya bring up the rear with three points.
The next game in the series comes up in September when Nigeria will host Malawi while Namibia will travel to Kenya for the last lap.  A winner of the group qualifies for the play-off.

Hull, Crystal Palace join chase for Odemwingie

Newly promoted English Premier League sides, Cardiff City and Hull City have joined in the race to sign maligned super Eagles forward, Osaze Odemwingie from West Brom.The former Locomotiv of Moscow player fell out with West Brom during the January transfer window following his failed attempt to move to relegated Queens Park Rangers.
The Daily Mirror and Daily Star report that West Brom are willing to sell the 31 year old striker, who is also wanted by Swansea and crystal Palace at £3million.
Osaze has 31 goals in 89 appearances to his credit since his movement to the West Brom in the 2010-11 Season.
In that Season, the former Insurance of Benin had 32 appearances with the club and scored 15 goals. In the following season he scored 11 goals in 32 games to place among the premier League top scorers; but last season was his worst as he could only account for just five goals in 25 matches. 

Messi under investigation for €4m tax fraud

Lionel Messi and his father have been accused by Spanish tax authorities of defrauding the state of more than €4m.
Barcelona’s world player of the year and his father Jorge allegedly filed fraudulent tax returns for the years 2007-2009, according to a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office for tax crimes in Catalonia.
The complaint, signed by the prosecutor Raquel Amado, has been submitted for trial at the courthouse in Gava, the Barcelona district where the Argentina forward lives.
Messi and his father are accused of three offences against the public purse. A judge must accept the prosecutor’s lawsuit before any charges could be brought.
In a statement released via his Facebook page, Messi said: “We have just known through the media about the claim filed by the Spanish tax authorities. We are surprised about the news, because we have never committed any infringement.
“We have always fulfilled all our tax obligations, following the advice of our tax consultants who will take care of clarifying this situation.”
Messi signed an extended contract with Barcelona earlier this year, with his salary, which is heavily driven by incentives, understood to begin at around €11m (£8.5m) a year net. Barcelona declined to comment on the complaint.
Messi played for his national team in Quito on Tuesday, where Argentina drew 1-1 with Ecuador in a World Cup qualifier – a match in which Javier Mascherano was sent off for kicking the driver of a medical buggy.
Alejandro Sabella, the Argentina coach, said Messi is expected to play in a friendly against Guatemala on Friday.

Echiejile happy with national team progress

Super Eagles defender, Elderson Echiejile has revealed his excitement at the progress he has been able to muster in the national team colours even as  set Eagles took on Namibia yesterday in a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Windhoek.
The Sporting Braga defender who has interestingly represented Nigeria at U-17 and U-20 levels before he graduated to the full international level said he was proud of the milestone he has been able to achieve adding that he will continue to do his best to maintain the momentum.
“It’s really great to know I’m in line to reach such a milestone,” Elderson said about his 30 cap in Eagles on his newly launched official website.
“I just wish to continue to do my best while representing my great country.”
Elderson, who debuted for the Eagles against France in a 2009 friendly in Saint Etienne, has made the left back position his own and has, before yesterday’s game raked in 29 caps.
Elderson was a member of the Flying Eagles at the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada, where he played five games and scored a goal.
The Portugal based defender also played a key role in Nigeria’s triumphant run at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations where he also registered his name amongst the goal scorers in Africa’s biggest soccer tournament.

Musa makes best players’ list in Russia

The Russian Football Union has announced the best 33 players in the Russian Premier League for the just concluded season.  After members of the RFU voted, three players were picked in each position.
Included in the list is CSKA Moscow winger and Nigeria international, Ahmed Musa, who was picked in attack alongside Cameroon super - star Samuel Eto’o of Anzhi and Spartak Moscow’s Yura Movsisyan.
Russian double champions CSKA Moscow contributed nine players to the roster .  Musa netted 11 goals in 28 matches (26 starts) in the 2012 - 2013 campaign.
He ended the season as the fifth highest goal-scorer in the championship, just 2 goals behind top marksman Krasnodar’s Wanderson.

Confederations Cup: Mikel tips Eagles for semi-finals

Nigeria star, John Obi Mikel has told Brazilian media that the Super Eagles can surprise pre-tournament favorites, Spain to reach at least the semi-finals of FIFA Confederations Cup which begins in Brazil this weekend.
‘’I think favoritism is a strong word. But we are excited about the tournament.
‘’There are many strong countries involved. It will not be easy. We will not say we are favorites, but we will do our best, give 100% as we always do.
‘’If we go with the same performance we had at the African Cup, I think we have good chances to reach at least the semi-finals,’’ Mikel told the website of TV Globo.
The Chelsea midfielder heaped praises on Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, who has built a new team since taking over from Samson Siasia.
‘’He is the boss, that’s how we call him.  A nice guy to work with, disciplined, outgoing, not afraid to tell you the truth if you are not playing well; he will be the first to tell you.
‘’I am very happy with the way he conducts the selection, players like him very much.  I think Nigeria is getting better with Stephen Keshi in charge,’’ said Mikel.
The Super Eagles play their first game of the tournament against Oceania representatives Tahiti next Monday in Belo Horizonte.

I want to be Nigeria’s ‘Serena Williams’ – Blessing Samuel

Nigerian number two female tennis player, Blessing Samuel has attributed her current exploits in the sport to her father’s unflinching support and coaching prowess as she hopes to follow in the footsteps of world tennis star, Serena Williams.
Blessing who has been hitting the tennis ball from a tender age of six while in far away Katsina state said it has been incredible playing the game because she enjoys every bit of it.
She said her father, Mr. Samuel who is grounded in the game, has been guiding her on the rudiments of the sport as she took part in several competitions including 2011 Governor’s Cup in Lagos, Dala tennis at the Port-Harcourt Open, Lord Rumens, CBN Open and  a host of others.
“As a junior player, she won all the championships she participated in from the year 2000 to 2004. Then in the senior category, she did not disappoint.  She also won the Dala tourney back to back in 2009 and 2010,” Mr. Samuel recalled.
For coming tops in those competitions, the aspiring ‘Serena Williams’ got tennis equipment – canvas, tennis balls, racquets and other items for her efforts and she treasured them.
The tennis player blamed lack of sponsorship for the poor growth of the game in Nigeria and said it was sad that a country like Nigeria could stage only two competitions in a year; adding that lack of competition keep the players redundant.
“Getting sponsorship has been my greatest challenge.  The more one tries the more difficult it becomes. There is no encouragement from the corporate world. You are on your own. But all hope is not lost. I am determined to make it to the top. If I can have just a sponsor, I will hit the roof.  I have tried to get at least one, but to no avail yet.  Hope is still alive. One will not lose focus on this task,” she said.
“If I have sponsors, I will take part in competitions abroad and gain more exposures. It is where the sport is a big business.” Yes, I have represented the country in international meets, but no break through yet. One needs to be playing in abroad to boost ones status,” she added.

NPFL: Ogunbote wants Sharks’ fans to keep faith

Gbenga Ogunbote, the Head Coach of Sharks FC of Port Harcourt has appealed to the club’s supporters to keep faith in spite of the team’s uninspiring performance, in the ongoing season.
Sharks currently occupy the 20th position on the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) standings with 14 points.
Yet the embattled coach said regardless of the team’s recent run of poor results, the fans must not relent in their support.
``I can assure the fans that we are working hard on making the team better, and we will soon get it right.
``Its a work in progress, we are working on winning, and I am optimistic that we will leave the fans with something to cheer at the end of the season.
``Ever since we made some vital changes, the team is gradually hitting its stride and will definitely get better as the season progresses,’’ he said.
Ogunbote added that the team was looking at bouncing back in its next match against Enyimba FC; after it suffered a 1-0 lose away to Nasarawa United last weekend.
The coach stressed that the team was working hard to improve its tactical approach and added that the process was ongoing.
``We’re trying to make do with the players we have at our disposal to achieve our objectives.
``We want to infuse in them a winning mentality in order to get the desired results; that will hopefully improve our situation,’’ Ogunbote said.