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Angola 2010: LOC, Mali Trade Words Over Training Shambles

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Africa Cup of Nations organisers have blamed the Algeria team for farcical scenes at a training ground in Luanda on Friday when competition rivals Mali were refused access to training facilities.

Algeria turned up at the Escoqueirus Stadium in Luanda and gained immediate entry on Friday afternoon, but waiting reporters were astonished when, a quarter of an hour later, the Mali team bus rounded a corner and parked outside the stadium.

Mali players, including Real Madrid midfielder and national team captain Mahamadou Diarra and 2007 African Footballer of the Year Frederic Kanoute, were made to wait in the coach for over half an hour, before being told they could enter the ground.

But the situation took a bizarre turn when the stadium’s security officers refused to let them in as Algeria continued preparing for their final first-round match against Angola on Monday in blissful ignorance inside.

Utter confusion then reigned, as Diarra and some of his fellow team-mates attempted to gain access by clambering through an open window.

Over by the securely locked main gate Kanoute and Mali’s Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi attempted to talk their way in, but to no avail.

After over an hour, and as dusk fell, a furious Keshi led his charges back to the team bus to return to their hotel having missed a vital chance to prepare for their last group match against Malawi in Cabinda on Monday.

Keshi, who won the Africa Cup of Nations as a player in the 1990s, told Tidesports source. “I’m fed up. How could this happen, to get the boys in a bus and travel to a ground and be told you can’t train? I don’t know whose fault it is…”

Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita was also furious at the shambles, saying defiantly: “They can do what they like, but we’re still going to qualify (for the quarter-finals).”

Diarra was so annoyed he refused to make any comment as he joined his team-mates for the hour-long journey back to the hotel to get ready for the flight to Cabinda yesterday.

Later, the local Africa Cup of Nations organising committee (LOC) said that Algeria had been at fault, and not them.

LOC media officer Virgilio Santos explained: “This mix-up had nothing to do with us. What happened was this: Mali were supposed to travel to Cabinda Friday but delayed their trip until yesterday.

“Algeria were supposed to train at the stadium until 1700, but when they saw the Mali team turn up they decided to make life difficult for Mali and they didn’t leave the pitch until 1815, which made Mali angry.”

Mali, on one point in Group A after a draw with the hosts and a 1-0 loss to Algeria, face a game against Malawi that they must win if they are to have any hope of making it into the last eight.

They are making their sixth appearance in the competition, with their highest placing coming in 1972 when they finished runners-up.

This is not the first time a competing team at the 2010 Nations Cup has fallen foul of a training ground blunder.

Malawi coach Kinnah Phiri was left fuming when his side were unable to train for two days before Thursday’s game against hosts Angola, which they lost 2-0.

“Three times we went onto a pitch but we found that there were others there,” he said. “They were asked to leave but they refused. We have not trained for two days.”

He said he had written a letter of protest to the competition’s organisers.

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Tokyo 2020: Nigerian Wrestlers Are Medal Hopefuls -Coach

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National wrestling coach Akuh Purity, has stated that Nigerian wrestlers going to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have real medal chances this time, compared to the 2016 Olympics with less than a month to the games in Tokyo.
Purity, speaking in a chat with Tidesports source stressed that better exposure and competition experience already put the Nigerian wrestlers as medal prospects.
He added that the wrestlers had actually competed against the very best in the world in the run-in to the Tokyo Olympics and have an idea of almost whatever anyone of the top guns will offer.

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Ex-D’Tigers Player Becomes NBA Head Coach

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Former D’tigers player Ime Udoka has been appointed the new coach for Boston Celtics in the NBA.
Udoka had been considered a front-runner for the job, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last Friday that Udoka was among the candidates who received second interviews.
Udoka, 43, spent seven years on Gregg Popovich’s staff in San Antonio, including the 2013-14 season, when the Spurs won the NBA title.
He joined the Philadelphia 76ers in 2019 and was with the Nets last year.
Udoka was a member of the Nigerian national team, for whom he played at the 2006 FIBA World Championships.

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B/Volleyball: Nigeria Defeats Kenya In Olympic Qualifiers

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Nigeria beat Kenya 2-1 (21-13, 19-21, 15-13) in the golden match to record their first win in the men’s category of the Tokyo Beach Volleyball Olympic Qualifiers in Morocco.
Nigeria Team A (Obayemi Ogunshina and Hilary Simon) lost to Kenya Team B 0-2 (15-21, 13-21) in the first encounter before Nigeria Team B consisting of Emenike Ezike and Emmanuel Chidebere defeated Kenya Team A (21-16, 21-16) in the second encounter.
The head coach of Nigeria beach volleyball team, Francis Imoudu commended the players for putting all their effort against Kenya.
Imoudu stated that Kenya gave Nigeria a good fight but the better side won the game.
He said, “This win is an indication that the men’s team is ready for their remaining opponents. I must commend the fighting spirit of the team because bookmakers had given the game to the Kenyans but we shocked Africa.
“Kenya is a good side but Nigeria did not show them any respect on the court. We will take each game as they come and all we need is the support of Nigerians home and abroad for these boys to succeed”.
Reacting to the victory, the Chairman Caretaker Committee of Nigeria Volleyball Federation, Engineer Musa Nimrod lauded the players for recording their first win of the beach volleyball Olympic qualifiers.
He said the Federation will continue to support the team adding that the players should show no respect to their remaining opponents in the qualifiers.

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