Things are getting better and better for Nigeria international midfielder John Mikel Obi.
Just days after signing a new five-year contract with Chelsea, new coach Carlo Ancelotti has made it clear Mikel will not only be an integral part of his plans for the new campaign, but will, in fact, be the heartbeat in his new tactical deployment.
“I have a lot of trust in Mikel. I think he can be the playmaker of this team. He is a young player, but has great quality, both technical and tactical.
“For the present and for the future he is a very important player for us. We are very happy he has signed a new contract and I hope that he stays at Chelsea for a lot of years. I would like that he puts in his great quality for the team,” Ancelotti said.
It is the kind of praise that pushes a player to give more than his all, especially for a coach who has won the top prizes in club football. Mikel is no exception and says he is honoured to be the recipient of such high praise.
“He was a great player himself and it is a great honour that he sees something in me. He says I am a player with great qualities, but thinks I can be even better. It is going to take a bit of time, but I am going to work very close with him to make it happen.”
Ancelotti says the Nigerian still needs to add a few more qualities to his game. It is something the Nigerian star is looking forward to with some relish.
“He likes the fact I am strong and can play with the ball, but says that I still need to add more things to my game – if I do that then he thinks I’m going to be fantastic. Hopefully things are going to go well and he will bring out the best in me.
“I have worked with him for two weeks and we are trying to get to know the formation he wants to play. Before the season starts we are all going to be mentally focused and we’re going to get the system right. The team wants to win titles and this is why he is here.”
Mikel has picked up two FA Cup winners’ medals and one in the League Cup in his time with Chelsea, but the Champions League continues to be a burning ambition.
“The manager has won it twice as a player and as a manager and I really envy him for that. We have come close so many times and I think that is why the club has brought him here, to take us to that final step.
“I haven’t talked to him yet about what it’s like to win the Champions League, but I hope he will have a big impact on my career. The way he has come in and the ideas he has as to how to set the team up, I think we can win everything.”
NYG: Rivers Basketball Team Embarks On Preparations
The Rivers State Basketball Association,has commenced preparations for the forthcoming 2021 edition of the National Youth Games (NYG) scheduled to hold September, this year.
This was disclosed by Head Coach of the body, Dagogo Okumgba, yesterday during an exclusive interview with Tidesports, at the state basketball court.
According to him, the team has commenced the preparation, ahead of the upcoming sports fiesta to build and fortify its athletes for the task ahead and other engagements that may likely come up in the future.
Coach Okumgba explained that the athletes were in high spirit and are doing well in their preparation for the competition, saying that they (athletes) would compete honourably, when the fiesta eventually gets underway.
“The athletes are working assiduously to ensure they compete favourably and are poised for victory at the NYG scheduled to be hosted by Ilorin, Kwara State,” Okumgba said.
However, the coach feared team sports might not participate in the competition, as he lamented their (team’s) absence at the National Sports Festival (NSF) held in Edo early this year.
“I think the decision was made as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic to reduce the number of athletes to take part in the festival. I don’t know, if what happened then will repeat itself, considering the third wave of the virus,” he said.
He urged his athletes to keep faith and keep the fire burning, adding that they should not relent in their preparation for the competition, whether or not they take part in the fiesta, the preparation will definitely keep them fit for other engagements.
“ It is better to be ready than not, just as the motto of the Boys Scout, l believe early preparation, being prepared at all times, is one major key to success,” he concluded.
By: Nancy Briggs
Covid-19 Scare: Team Nigeria Undergoes Daily Tests In Tokyo
As Covid-19 cases continue to rise in Tokyo, venue of the 2020 Olympics, Team Nigeria’s camp has resorted to daily testing of the members of their contingent.
Tidesports source gathered that there had been daily reports of athletes and officials contracting Covid-19 at the Olympics Games Village in Tokyo.
The Tidesports also reported that a Nigerian official in his 60s was hospitalised after contracting the virus.
One of the athletes, who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said athletes and officials were taking necessary precautions to ensure they did not contract the virus.
According to him, this includes daily testing and staying away from the public.
“We are doing everything that needs to be done not to contract the virus. We test daily and don’t mingle,” he said.
Another athlete, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it was not the type of Olympics she would have loved to compete in due to the deadly virus. “It has not been easy here trying to adjust to the high temperatures. Covid-19 here is real. Athletes, particularly me, are very careful. Life isn’t easy here at all. Not the kind of Olympics I would have loved to take part in but in all, I’m glad to be here,” she said.
Public Relations Officer of the Nigeria Olympics Committee, Femi Adetula, said the unnamed Nigerian official was already getting better but declined to name the official, saying the NOC was respecting his rights.
“It’s been confirmed that an official contracted the virus. He is in isolation, receiving treatment and he is doing fine. In a matter of days, the official will be out of isolation because of the recovery rate,” he said.
NBA: Milwaukee Star Anxious To Visit Nigeria – Wants To Learn About His Roots
Milwaukee Bucks All StarGiannis Antetokounmpo wants to visit Nigeria soon and cannot wait to learn more about his roots.
Antetokounmpo, who produced a performance for the ages to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA title since 1971 after a 105-98 win over the Phoenix Suns last Monday, was born in and represents Greece.
“Obviously, a lot of people don’t know where I’m from. A lot of people think my mom or my dad is from Greece, but no,. Both of my parents are black. Both of my parents are Nigerians.” Antetokounmpo said.
“I grew up in a Nigerian home, Obviously, I was born in Greece and went to school in Greece. But at the end of the day when I go home, there is no Greek culture. It’s straight-up Nigerian culture. It’s about discipline, it’s about respecting your elders, having morals,” he said.
Antetokounmpo, who said his original surname Adetokunbo was mispelt at the Greek Passport office, hasn’t traced his roots in person yet, but hopes to visit Nigeria either this summer or next summer , revealing that he got his Nigerian passport in 2015.
“I want to see where my family comes from, where my mom was raised, see my family, see where my dad was raised. That is very important. I hope my kids can do the same thing for me,” Antetokounmpo said.
Meanwhile, Basketball legend and NBA Hall of Famer, Hakeem Olajuwon said Nigerians were proud of Giannis Antetokounmpo despite the Milwaukee Bucks All-Star representing Greece.
“I’m sure Nigerians are very proud of him, especially because of the way he has conducted himself and how he is dominating the league,” Olajuwon said. He has accomplished a great deal in such a short period of time,” he said.
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