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Liverpool’s David Ngog Can Be The Player Ryan Babel Should Be

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It seems that any substitution involving Yossi Benayoun causes surprise these days. Less than a week ago the Israeli’s late withdrawal, during Liverpool’s loss to Lyon drew a chorus of boos from the club. Last Wednesday, he emerged from the bench 15 minutes from time as the Reds chased the game at Arsenal, and his introduction raised more than a few eyebrows.

It was not that it was Benayoun being brought on, of course. The 29-year-old’s guile and composure was more than welcome at a stage when Liverpool were on top of their energetic but inexperienced opponents. The consternation from the travelling pocket of Reds supporters packed into a sold-out Emirates Stadium came from seeing that it was David Ngog who was to be replaced.

Ok, it is not the same as removing, say, Fernando Torres, but still it was surprising. The young Frenchman had given Rafa Benitez 75 minutes of hard-work, and plenty of quality. It was his clever back-heel which opened up a glorious chance for Philipp Degen in the early stages, one that the Swiss full-back wasted.

Contrasting his performance with another Liverpool player looking to establish himself as an understudy (or partner) for Torres, Ryan Babel, and it is clear to see which player is showing more promise at this stage.

Babel cost more than £11 million, seven times as much as Ngog, when he arrived at Anfield from Ajax in 2007, and the early signs were highly promising. Moving with a fluidity which reminded Kopites of John Barnes or Thierry Henry, the Dutchman netted ten goals in his debut season at the club, and looked set to push on and establish himself as first choice.

That he has not is a damning indictment, at a time when quality attacking players at the club are apparently in such short supply. Torres is undoubtedly the top dog at Anfield, but there is an undoubted chance for someone like Babel to nail down a regular place. A chance, it appears, he is unable, or unwilling, to grasp.

On Wednesday night, he flitted around halfheartedly, offering only a partial threat as Liverpool were second-best for large spells. One nod down for Emiliano Insua’s goal, and a skimming 30-yard free kick that Lukasz Fabianski fielded well was the sum total of his night’s work. A night that was capped with a poor miss, as he failed to connect with Dirk Kuyt’s low cross late on.

Babel’s apologists point to the fact that he is yet to fully earn the faith of Benitez, and that he has never received a prolonged run in the first team. There may be an element of truth in this. Babel has already been named as a substitute 55 times in his short Anfield career, and has been substituted on countless other occasions. But when confronted with statistics such as those, is it not logical to wonder why?

The answer, it seems, is a case of attitude. Ngog may not be the darling of the Kop, though his strike against Manchester United last weekend will help, but his performances always display plenty of hard-work, a willingness to learn and improve, and a team-first attitude. Supporters respond to such traits, and the Frenchman is currently reaping the rewards.

For Babel, who has made plenty of noise in the past about needing to leave in order to secure first-team football, the long-term prognosis is less promising. It is clear that the talent is there, but Benitez could be forgiven for doubting if this Liverpool side are able to unlock it on a regular basis. The January transfer window may represent Liverpool’s best chance to pick up a sizable fee for Babel, who will be 23 by the time Christmas comes.

Obviously things can change. Babel’s pace and shooting power means he will always appeal as an alternative option from the bench, but at this moment in time, it makes more sense to back the Frenchman than it does to go Dutch.

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CAF Mulls Super League Idea

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The Confederation of African Football [CAF] is discussing the idea of introducing an African Super League, a continental competition which would likely replace the current CAF Champions League and hopefully boost revenue for the organising body.
The revelation was made as CAF President Patrice Motsepe issued a statement outlining the changes and reforms the new leadership is making to ensure African football is globally competitive and self-sustaining.
The idea has taken shape even despite the disastrous European Super League [ESL] proposal earlier this year, which caused major controversy before being banned after most founding member clubs bowed to fan pressure and pulled out.
“ExCo [the CAF executive committee] may have to discuss and consider new CAF competitions which may generate additional funding or income for CAF, its member associations and bodies and also contribute to African football becoming globally competitive and self-sustaining,” Motsepe was quoted as saying by Tidesports source.
“In this regard, we are assessing and [are] in preliminary discussions to start an inclusive and broadly supported and beneficial CAF African Super League. We have been following the attempts by some top European clubs to form a Euro Super League and will learn from their experience and pitfalls.”
CAF is looking to boost income after recent forensic auditing revealed that the organisation has been beset by financial irregularities.

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NPFL: Rivers United’s Coach Praises Players

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The Chief Coach of Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt, Ndubuisi Nduka, has praised his players after a 1-0 win over Katsina United FC in the match day 28 of the Nigeria Professional Football League ( NPFL) in Port Harcourt.
He stated that his boys (players) gave all their best  to ensure they secured the maximum three points for the team, and described the encounter as very tough. 
Nduka, said this on Sunday, during a post match interview with sports journalists, after the Pride of Rivers, defeated their opponents  1-0, at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt.
According to him, what made the match more difficult for his players was that they failed to utilise goal opportunities they created in the first half of the game.
The only goal of the game came in the 77th minute by home boy, Malachi Ohawume, who made his goals four for this league season.
“It was a tough game; I think our boys gave it all.
What made it more difficult for us was the chances we lost especially in the first half, “ Nduka said.
He explained that the second round of the league is always difficult because every team is fighting to be at top and some are fighting not to be relegated.
“At this point and time of the league, the second round, we are stretching to the finishing point.
“It is always difficult and if you remember the position of Katsina United, they are not safe so they are looking for where to pick points, so I gave kudos to my boys as they secured three points for us, “ he stated. 
Rivers United is now 4th on the log after 28 matches with 48 points.

By:  Kiadum Edookor

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Hockey Championship: Team Rivers’ Performance Excites Coach

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The Head coach of Team Rivers State, (female) hockey, Comfort Nya, has commended her players after they defeated team Edo, 3-1 in the ongoing, 2021 Mabisel National Hockey Championship (MNHC) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. 
She, described the match as one of the toughest games they have played, saying that the calibre of players she saw in the team Edo lineup was intimidating.
Nya said this on Monday in her post match interview with sports journalists, after their first victory in the championship, at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Sports in Port Harcourt. 
According to her, their first game in the championship was difficult because of the heavy downpour, adding that they could not play well but today they are awesome.
“It was a tough one, honestly speaking I would not tell lies, and the players I saw in team Edo lineup are old and good players and my girls are just upcoming.
“I was thinking of draw or let them just play but with this result I am so happy with their performance, “Nya said. 
The coach further explained that their next outing will be against team Kaduna, they are going to do more better.
“Our first game was disturbed by heavy rainfall, they could not play well but today they have performed well.
“In our next game against team Kaduna, we are going to do better,” She stated..

By: Kiadum Edookor

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